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Full text of "Tillotson"

lil. 



m. 



EDWARD HYAMS 



UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




COLLEGE LIBRARY 



Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive 

in 2012 witli funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/tillotsonOOhyam 



EDWARD HYAMS 




SIMON AND SCHUSTER 
NEW YORK / 1961 




ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION 

IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN ANY FORM 

COPYRIGHT © i960 BY EDWARD HYAMS 

PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, INC. 

ROCKEFELLER CENTER, 63O FIFTH AVENUE 

NEW YORK 20, N. Y. 

PUBLISHED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. LTD. 
UNDER THE TITLE "ALL WE POSSESS." 

FIRST PRINTING 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 61-585I 

PRINTED BY THE MURRAY PRINTING COMPANY, FORGE VILLAGE, MASS. 

BOUND BY AMERICAN BOOK-STRATFORD PRESS, INC., NEW YORK 



To my friend 

John Catlin 

with affection 



'We possess nothing in the world — a mere chance can 
strip us of everything — excepting the power to say 
"I". That is what we have to give to God — in other 
words to destroy. There is absolutely no other free act 
which it is given to us to accomplish — only the 
destruction of the 'T\* 

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace 



PART ONE 

SELF 

'I couldn't say what the thing it is sitting on is 
supposed to represent. It looks broken.' 

James Thurber, The Owl in the Attic 



The night before Edward Tillotson went to begin his first job his 
father pointed out that his Ufe was about to begin in earnest and 
added, what he had often said before, that Rudyard Kipling's If was 
one of the greatest poems in the language. Edward went to bed and 
at eight o'clock the following morning appeared at Mr. Pardoner's 
office. Mr. Pardoner was the head of the department he had been 
appointed to in Mendoza & Son's, most of whose vast factory in 
Brougham Square, N.W.iy, smelt of tobacco. But the long sorting- 
room you had to walk down to reach Mr. Pardoner's office had a 
strange, sour smell which was repulsive and exciting. Edward did 
not at once realize what it was. It was the smell of girls. Two hundred 
of them sat at the immensely long sorting tables, not yet starting 
work because the travelling bands from the postal delivery room had 
not started to move with their eternal load of letters asking for 
canteens of cutlery, toby jugs, ping-pong sets, Bibles and wireless 
sets. The girls sat or stood about, changing shoes, putting on over- 
alls, fiddling with their hair, making up their faces, in a seethe of 
nervous movement, and talking, talking; an undertone of un- 
modulated twitter, overtones of sudden piercing hoots, which might 
be cries of anger or mirth; or just noise for its own sake. 

Walking the length of that room was ordeal by girl; something to 
be attempted in fear and accomplished in triumph, like the first time 
Edward had jumped a horse over a gate, down at his Uncle Walter's 
near Goudhurst. But it mercifully happened on this first occasion, 
with no work started and so nothing to bore them into seeking a 
passing distraction, that the girls took no aggressive notice of him : 
one or two turned and stared after him ; one or two pointed him out 
to friends and laughed. As he reached Mr. Pardoner's office, with 
his own desk just outside it in a sort of pen, a stout woman who 
might have been the daughter of many generations of sergeant- 
majors mated with police matrons, rang a bell and there was a 
scramble subsiding into brief silence as the travelling bands started 
to move and the first letters of the day were spewed on to the tables. 

Edward went straight into Mr. Pardoner's office without knock- 
ing, driven by the mortifying sense of mockery behind him as, when 

8 



a child, he had been terrifyingly certain of a hostile, following 
presence when he was sent upstairs, into the darkness of the second 
or third floors of his father's house, to fetch something for his father 
or Mrs. Olantigh. His face was flushed and his eyes were hunted, and 
when Mr. Pardoner looked up from his papers, which were spread 
all over the desk, he said : 

'Hallo! Those girls been chi-iking you?' 

*I don't know,' Edward said. 

*You would if they had.' 

*I mean, I don't know what chi-iking means.' 

Mr. Pardoner frowned thoughtfully: his face was like Don 
Quixote's in the old, illustrated edition Mrs. Olantigh had given 
Edward; long, dark, deeply lined so that the flesh, for all its leanness, 
was draped in vertical folds, Hke an ample curtain ; his eyes were often 
lowered with a kind of modesty, or to hide the gleam of irony, under 
lofty, arched eyebrows of a singular nobility of line. 

'You're entitled not to know that,' he said. 'One uses such terms 
without realizing that they have never been defined. I think one 
might define chi-ike as, let me see, to make game of someone by 
uttering provocative cries.' 

Edward thought he was being sarcastic, because he talked a little 
like the maths master they had called Sarky Sid in the life he had 
been leading up to four weeks ago, at C.S.B., the Collegiate School 
for Boys. But it was not so; and Edward was not long in discovering 
that almost any point of purely academic interest would serve to 
distract Mr. Pardoner from the work of his, as he called it, 'gainful 
occupation'. 'For, you see,' he was to assure Edward, not many 
weeks later, 'this work is not my job. I am a mathematician. I am a 
church organist; I am, possibly, a composer of church music. But I 
am not allowed to practise these trades. They, that sinister and 
anonymous force, wish me to organize the giving of free gifts — as if a 
gift could be anything but free ! — to my fellows, in order to persuade 
them to smoke very indifferent tobacco at a price which will keep 
Mr. Isaac Mendoza and young David Mendoza, and their women, in 
the style they are accustomed to.' But that explanation came later; 
at the time Edward thought Mr. Pardoner was another Sarky Sid, 
and resented his tone. He said, 'They uttered no provocative cries.' 

Mr. Pardoner looked up; had he worn spectacles he would have 
been peering over them. 'Rest assured, Tillotson,' he said, 'that 
they will ; and you will have to get used to it. And now sit down and 
let's have a look at you.' 



Edward sat down across the desk from him. They had met only 
once before, for five minutes, in the Personnel Manager's office. 
That had not been an occasion to heighten any sense of his own 
importance Edward might have had. The Personnel Manager had 
said, 'Here's your new assistant, Mr. Pardoner. Name of Edward 
Tillotson. He is eighteen and he has his school cert. That's about 
all I know. But I suppose you don't need a genius in your depart- 
ment?' 

*A willing cretin could do the work, Mr. Cohen.' 

'So I imagined. Goosewalk, in Advertising, wanted to do our 
advertising people a good turn and this young man's father's a pal 
of theirs.' 

Now, however, Mr. Pardoner said, 'Why did you come here ?' 

'I had to have a job somewhere.' 

'There could be no other reason. Are you ambitious, Tillotson?' 

'I don't know.' 

'Well, what, if anything, are you interested in ?' 

'Electricity,' Edward said. It seemed to be the only answer he 
could think of, or the only viable one among the number which 
would no doubt have been equally true. He could hardly say girls; 
or the old trees in Overbury Park; or music; or going down to his 
Uncle Walter's; or horses. 

'Why didn't you "go in" for it?' Whenever Mr. Pardoner used 
such expressions he put them into audible inverted commas. By 
way of answer, Edward quoted his father : 

'There is no way to. At the bottom end there are thousands of 
unemployed, and at the other end you need degrees or diplomas I 
haven't got.' 

'Do the mathematics of the subject interest you?' 

'Yes. But I'm supposed to be slow at learning and my father says 
I won't concentrate. We ... we couldn't afford college.' 

'You and I will get on like a house on fire. The mathematical side 
of music is my hobby. Do you know anything about harmonics?' 

'Only the harmonics of tuned circuits.' 

'The analogues between our subjects are close.' 

Mr. Pardoner leaned back in his chair and talked and Edward 
began to like him. Even the way Mr. Pardoner said 'our subjects' 
suggested that he, Edward, had serious interests, above wages and the 
kind of thing implied by most people in the words my job. Not that 
this point of view, peculiar to such nearly extinct classes as artists, 
craftsmen and gentlemen, was entirely new to him. But it was familiar 

10 



in a debased form: as manifest in his father and Mrs. Olantigh and 
their friends it had come to be taken by Edward as a vulgar fraud 
and he had, perhaps too hastily, assumed that it was always so. But 
now he seemed to recognize it as genuine and to be cherished, at 
which satisfactory point Mr. Pardoner broke off and said, *But we 
are wasting our employer's time. The work you have to do here is 
simple. This, as you know, is the free-gifts department. Do not ask 
yourself why, in a glorious world with most of its resources untapped 
and half its population starving, unclad and inadequately housed, 
several hundred lives and several million pounds of treasure have to 
be spent annually in bribing people with rubbish, to poison them- 
selves. That way madness lies. The coupons given away in our 
cigarette packets return here together with forms stating the 
customer's choice of gifts. Those girls out there deal with the letters, 
putting each one into a work-envelope of instructions to the stores, 
postal, and records departments . . .' He rummaged among the 
papers on his desk until he found what he sought, and handed it to 
Edward : it was a quarto buff envelope with a grid printed on it, each 
space headed by a rubric . . . stores, mail, records . . . Mr. Pardoner 
went on explaining the work of his department, and Edward half 
listened, still preoccupied with what he had been saying before they 
came to business matters. Words of his manager's explanation 
jumped out at him, like alarming jacks-in-boxes to scare him into 
diligent attention, but in vain. 'Gummed addressed labels . . . typing 
pool . . . form covering letters . . . Mr. Isaac Mendoza's signature . . .* 
And his conclusion: 

'The gifts are diverse, from propelling pencils to motor-cars, by 
way of domestic appliances, cutlery, crockery and cosmetics.' 

'Motor-cars?' 

'Quarter of a million coupon units. We have never had one claimed 
yet. But one of our chief competitors, Carrera's, for example, 
offer better tobacco, so our bid for trade has to be high. Nobody 
ever claims a car but it looks well in the advertisements.' 

'Where do I come in, sir .'*' 

'You are my snag chaser. Snags can and do arise all along the line. 
You trace the origin of the trouble and report to me. I rectify it. 
Among the difficulties are unreadable letters, parcels lost in the post, 
complaints of unsatisfactory gifts, miscounts of coupons . . . but you 
will soon get into the way of it.' 

'I see.' 

'You do not sound enthusiastic, Tillotson, and I cannot say I 

II 



blame you. As we are to work together it will be as well if I explain 
my point of view about our job here. To begin with, our employer 
is a Jew . . .* 

He paused, as if for comment ; and Tillotson, with the faintest, 
flush of what looked a little like shame, said : 

'Does that make some kind of difference ?* 

'It does, although it has become difficult, and will become more 
difficult, to say honestly and objectively what difference, since the 
conduct of the Nazis and their Chancellor set us all back a thousand 
years. Those of us with more liberal opinions are being driven into 
a self- protective and necessarily false pro-Semitism.' 

'Yes, I see.* 

Mr. Pardoner may have noticed something a shade overstrained 
in the young man's manner for he looked at him curiously; but he 
said nothing about it, and presently continued, saying that working 
for Jews meant that one was spared all claptrap about service and 
loyalty and, *. . . other big words, Tillotson, which have become very 
small, shrivelled and shamefaced words, words like old, tired 
whores, Tillotson, standing at the receipt of custom on the dim 
corners of blind alleys in shabby provincial cities, pretending still 
to the charms of youth and hot blood . . .' He checked himself and 
said, curtly: 

'Get here on time, but not a moment sooner. Leave here on time, 
neither sooner nor later. I do not advise the zeal usually recom- 
mended to young men in your situation because it will not answer. 
Your job is just a job, and has no future and it would be misleading 
to pretend that it had. If your father has influence, let him get you 
into that advertising agency Cohen spoke of, after a decent interval 
here. You will still be in the demi-monde of commerce, but at a 
higher level.' 

And as Edward was leaving the office with orders to sit at his desk 
and read the paper until the supervisor of the girls, Mrs. Mills, 
introduced herself and brought him his first task, he was, perhaps, 
looking hang-dog; for Mr. Pardoner raised his eyes from his paper 
again and said : 

'Don't be cast down, Tillotson. If I were you I should work at 
those maths and electricity. They are adult occupations.' 

If Edward had been slightly disturbed by Mr. Pardoner's treat- 
ment of the Jewish question it was not only because his grandfather 
on the maternal side was Jewish — Edward's mother was French — 
but his name was Dreyfus. Edward's share of Jewish blood was not 

12 



large since old M. Dreyfus was only half-Jewish and had been 
brought up a Catholic, although reverted, in old age, to the religion 
of his paternal ancestors. And Edward had not even been properly 
aware of his embarrassing distinction until the new school of 
politics in Germany thrust it upon his attention. The behaviour of 
these young Nazis made Edward indignant on the rare occasions 
when he paid any attention to it and a mild irritation against the 
Jews for being persecuted. But he also felt a little bit guilty and 
slightly ashamed, even though only one-eighth of the blood in his 
veins was Jewish. 

His father W9s a dialogue-polisher by trade, although on official 
forms he filled in the space for 'Occupation' with the word 'Writer'. 
He had set out to be a man of letters through one of those corre- 
spondence schools which claim to teach the art, while earning his 
living as a junior in an advertising agency, where he helped to wiite 
the copy for advertisements. He wrote short stories and sent them to 
magazines but they were always returned. When, later in life, he 
mentioned this, he also pointed out that nearly all these magazines 
had since failed and gone out of business; and, perhaps conscious 
that the implication was wanting in modesty, he would add, 'I am 
a craftsman, Edward. But not, alas, an artist. I can shape' — the 
gesture he used to illustrate that word always outlined an opulent 
female form in the air — 'but I cannot create, and it has been a grief 
to me.* 

But if Mr. Tillotson had none of the artist's gifts, he had the 
temperament. Irked by employment under orders, as a free- 
lance he was capable of self-discipHne, and hard, sustained work. His 
chance to cast off the yoke of service came when the advertising 
agency which employed him had a hand in a documentary film which 
was being sponsored by a client. The dialogue which had been 
written for it was unsatisfactory and Mr. Tillotson re-wrote it. The 
film was being made by a small company, but one of its directors 
was an accountant and financier who had become a leading figure in 
the film industry, which appears, indeed, to be always in the hands 
of entrepreneurs drawn from all the trades and professions excepting 
the cinema. His name was Reuben Lipschitz and the work of many 
of his other companies was frequently held up by unsatisfactory 
dialogue in the scripts. By his intervention Mr. Tillotson began to 
receive offers of work from them; and as it was quite well paid he 
took a chance and, although he had just married, turned freelance. 
His wife being French, with her help, until he could dispense with 

13 



it, he also did translations from the French for English and American 
publishers; it was not well paid but he worked extremely fast and 
straight on to the typewriter. His rate for the job was thus about 
thirty shillings an hour. A great deal of the quality of the original 
works was no doubt lost to the English reader, but as often as not 
Mr. Tillotson's linguistic short-cuts were taken by the reviewers 
for the Latin terseness of the originals. He made an adequate living 
by these means. 

Edward's mother was a plump, jolly girl with a round face and 
bright blue eyes. Edward did not remember much about her. 
Mr. Tillotson had met her at a party : she had come to England as a 
nursemaid-companion to get away from her family because of the 
unpleasantness following her father's reversion to the religious 
practices of his ancestors, which had horrified her mother, who had 
filled the house with priests trying to check this backsliding. Her 
father had retaliated by calling in a posse of rabbis, and the religious 
warfare which ensued made the house intolerable. 

When Edward was seven his mother could not put up with his 
father's carryings-on any longer; nor with Overbury Park in north- 
west London, where they lived because Mr. Tillotson had inherited 
a house there, unsaleable but inhabitable. She left him and returned 
to France and divorced him. The co-respondent — there was an 
embarrassment of choice — was a Mrs. Olantigh who, as Mr. Tillot- 
son himself said, was a very cultured woman although she wrote for 
the women's magazines. She had had a small but gratifying success 
with the better sort of critics when she published a book which, 
although it was written in English, was entitled A la recherche des 
repas perdus, a collection of all the meals and comestibles which 
appear in Proust's great book, together with recipes: the women's 
page editor of a Sunday newspaper picked her recipe for the petite 
madeleine of SwanrCs Way and made quite a little feature of it. It 
enhanced Mrs. Olantigh's literary standing. In later life Edward 
recalled his father's mistress as an essentially steatopygous figure, 
one of those women whose flexible bodies acquire breasts and 
bottoms in a matter of days when fashion changes them from flat to 
round; and shed them as quickly when the reverse change occurs. 
But he was grateful to her for teaching him to read books which she 
knew were 'good', and he acknowledged that he owed her a great 
deal one way and another, if merely for never trying to be a mother to 
him. The only thing he ever had against her was that she would not, 
like his mildly affectionate, good-natured mother, let him go alone 

14 



over the railway tracks by the iron bridge, and into the park, where 
there was a kangaroo in an enclosure and an emu in another, grass 
to play on and trees to climb when the old keeper was not looking. 

What Edward liked most in his life was going to his Uncle Walter 
Tillotson's, who had a smallholding near Goudhurst. His uncle and 
aunt were very different: Walter Tillotson was an excessively 
religious man and it made him miserable because he feared, for 
some reason which was never clear, that he was not 'justified'. Sin, 
and the spiteful politics of the West Kent Egg and Tomato Marketing 
Board, comprised his whole life. His wife kept her patience and good 
nature by loving him. And she was the grown-up in Edward's life 
who gave him confidence by loving him and welcoming his love for 
her. With that comfort behind him he could ride his bicycle to the 
coast or spend days in the company of his friends. He had made 
friends with the son of a farmer named Tuff, and with his friends. 
Together they stood at the periphery of the fields where corn was 
being reaped, and got wildly excited in chase of the fleeing rabbits — 
there were no combines, nor myxamatosis, then. He rode his friend's 
old pony and it turned out that he had a good natural 'seat' and light 
hands and Mr. Tuff let him ride a horse he kept for his own pleasure, 
and even taught him to jump. And in the hot, sticky and harassing 
sexual curiosity of the mid-teens Edward mauled a girl called Eileen 
Figgis about, when she would let him : not that she was prudish ; but, 
opulently female at fourteen, she had many calls on her time. 

When Edward told Mr. Pardoner that he had had to take what 
job he could get, it was true: Mr. Tillotson's attitude to the question 
of further education was a simple one ; he said that he had no money 
and Edward no brains. This would not have mattered now, but 
Edward Tillotson left school not much after the time of public- 
school and ex-oflicer vacuum-cleaner salesmen, of Welsh miners' 
choirs begging in Regent Street, of unemployed practising a kind of 
ahisma by lying down on the road to stop traffic in Oxford Street as 
a protest against being excluded from the right to work or to eat 
anything but bread and scrape. All this did not seem to be anything 
to do with Edward, so that it did not make him grateful for his job 
at Mendoza & Son's factory. 

As it took an hour from Overbury Park to Brougham Square, 
and longer when it was foggy, Edward had to leave home at seven. 
He did not like getting up in the dark and going out into the sodden, 
icy streets with their permanent film of thin grey mud; but if he 
arrived at the factory with his distaste showing in his face, Mr. 

15 



Pardoner would say something like, *Do not let me see you repining, 
Tillotson. This is how we live now. Hold up your head man, you're 
the heir of all the ages.' Another time he said, 'It was to enable you 
to sit counting coupons between two layers of dirt that Adam delved 
and Eve span. Consider, as you plod, frozen, stuffed with burnt 
porridge, and breathing your daily ounce of poisonous particles, 
that all over this precious gem set in a silver sea, men, women and 
children are doing even as you; the lucky ones, that is; the other 
three or four million have nowhere to plod to.' Or he would come 
out of his office to find Edward, in common with half the girls, 
coughing the morning journey's filth out of their lungs ; and, placing 
a hand on his shoulder, say, 'Reassure yourself, Tillotson. As far 
south as we are here, the impurities in the air very rarely corrode 
metal door-handles. And this, you know, is what we exchanged for 
hunting the aurochs on a fine, frosty morning in a valley full of the 
chuckling of running water. Progress, Tillotson, progress: let that 
be your guerdon.' 

And one day, happening to meet together outside Mendoza's in 
the street as they were returning from lunch, Edward and Mr, 
Pardoner watched a long, dismal file of men in clumsy, dirty clothes, 
holed boots and cloth caps, who bore banners calling for work and 
bread, making their way across Brougham Square to one of the last 
hunger-marchers' demonstrations before the prospect of war set 
armourers thriving and millions free from the prospect of a lifetime's 
half-starved idleness, and substituted death by bombs and bullets. 
For a couple of minutes they watched in silence and then Mr. 
Pardoner turned aside and led the way into the building. 

'To think,' he said, as they went side by side up the stairs, 'that 
there are fools who hold the tale of the casting out of our first 
parents from Eden to have been a myth. But the curse of God is 
unconscionably long, Tillotson.' 

The burnt porridge he used as a symbol for Edward's breakfast 
in the dark mornings was of his own getting. Mrs. Olantigh's 
'woman' did not come in until eight-thirty, and although Mrs. 
Olantigh said that she would get up at six and cook him a meal, and 
perhaps might have done it, Edward's father would not hear of it. 
He said: 

'I really do not see, Edward, why Maud should wait on you. It 
will do you good to be thrown on your own resources.' 

Mr. Tillotson could have afforded a servant living in the house; 
but when they did have one he used to let her wages 'stand over just 

i6 



for a week', until he owed her twenty pounds or more and had 
trouble in finding it, and there were rows and hysterics and threats 
of writing to John Bull which, despite the downfall of the great 
demagogue Horatio Bottomley a decade ago, was still the people's 
equivalent for issuing a writ. It was probably Mrs. Olantigh who 
persuaded him that they would be more comfortable and independent 
with just a daily woman. 

Edward no longer had his annual two months at Goudhurst to 
look forward to, but only two weeks, and it was not possible to take 
any interest in his work. If it had not been for the mathematics of 
the sine curve, and later for Doris, he would have become very 
dejected and demoralized. 

As for the sine curve, one day when Mr. Pardoner came in from 
lunch at The Bald-faced Nag (meat and two veg.), he stopped beside 
Edward's desk and caught him staring at his hands, as if he wondered 
what they were for. He stood there looking down at Edward from 
his great height out of his dark face and when his assistant made to 
stand up, put a hand heavily on his shoulder to hold him down and 
said, *Do you day-dream, Tillotson?' 

'No, I don't,' Edward said. It was a lie, of course : but his father 
was very much against day-dreaming, he said it was a 'debilitating 
habit'. That would not have made much impression on Edward, 
who although not consciously despising his father, often found 
himself instinctively looking for the good in what Mr. Tillotson 
disapproved of. But somehow or other the idea of day-dreaming had 
become mixed up in his mind with the idea of another secret, 
juvenile and more furtive indulgence which his father had suspected 
him of when he was about eleven or twelve, not without reason, and 
of which he had made Edward afraid and ashamed. He never accused 
him of this practice: but he frequently warned him against it in a 
very meaning way, fixing his eyes on the boy's hotly flushed face 
with a kind of probing earnestness and saying, Tt causes a weakening 
of the constitution and blindness.' He was full of such curious lore. 
*And if,' he said sometimes, 'if you know any of your school-fellows 
who . . . (he used such words as school-fellows, women-folk,) who 
... er ... do it, avoid them like the plague.' 

It was this confusion in Edward's mind which made him say that 
he did not day-dream, to which Mr. Pardoner replied that he did not 
believe him and went straight on : 

'Day-dreaming is an engine of power, Tillotson. Doubtless you 
have been unfavourably impressed by the example of Alnaschar. 

17 



Put that fable out of your mind. Alnaschar^s trouble was not that he 
was a day-dreamer, but that he was a fool. You will find the habit 
valuable on condition that you base it on something substantial. 
Dream that you are what you can become; not a duke with a deer- 
park or a pasha with a harem, but, let us say, an eminent mathe- 
matician or, if yours is a more practical bent, a successful electrical 
contractor. Does it occur to you that I sound rather like Kipling in 
an off moment ? Forgive me, Tillotson. I mean only this, that it is 
as well to make our vices serve our virtues; it is what they are for.' 

The next day he stopped at Edward's desk at the same time, but 
he was working, with small, counted piles of coupons laid out like 
some kind of patience game. Mr. Pardoner put down three shabby 
books and said, *I have no further use for them so they are not an 
expensive present. I hope, however, that they may prove valuable.' 

He went into his room before Edward could thank him. One of 
the books was a thin one, only seventy-two pages. The Sine Curve 
and its deformation by harmonics, by J. D. Abrams, a Fellow of 
Trinity College, Cambridge. Physicists consider it a very good book 
indeed. The other books 'were Simmonds on Calculus and W. J. 
Pardoner on The Simple Mathematics of Alternating Currents. It was 
this one that Edward opened and looked at first; and the first time 
he had to go into Mr. Pardoner's office, he said, 'Are you W. J. 
Pardoner, sir? I mean, did you write that book?' 

'Yes, Tillotson, I wrote it. And much good it ever did me! Until 
I was kicked out in nineteen-twenty I was a Torpedo Officer in the 
Royal Navy. As, doubtless, you know, Torpedo Officers are the 
electrical specialists. I was foolish enough to take politics seriously 
in those days and even, if you will believe me, to sympathize with 
the Bolsheviks. I objected to going to Murmansk to kill socialists, so 

the Navy and I parted company. Hinc, Tillotson, illae lacrimae ' 

Mr. Pardoner pretended to mop up his tears — 'Meanwhile I had 
been struck by the analogues between electrical and musical har- 
monics. And so I wrote the book I have just given you. And while I 
was leaving the Navy, my book remained — as one of the textbooks 
for Torpedo Officers and ratings.' 

Edward did not like to ask Mr. Pardoner why he had not gone 
into the electrical industry. Besides, young as he was, he had begun 
to realize that Mr. Pardoner was one of those men who do not manage 
their lives, but blunder from one false position to another. 

There was nothing remarkable in Edward's reading the books 
Mr. Pardoner had given him and in following what might almost be 

i8 



called courses of study suggested by them. He applied himself 
because he was bored; and he discovered that there was substance 
in Mr. Pardoner's claim that there was more satisfaction in dreaming 
of a gratifying future if the present provided some foundation for 
such dreams. It was not altogether unreasonable to picture himself 
making some profitable electrical discovery since he was engaged in 
studying alternating currents; whereas he could not reasonably see 
himself inheriting a fortune, since nobody in his family ever had any 
money. 

But as if to mock this process of reasoning, he was not half way 
through Abrams and had worked only three of the simplest examples 
in Simmonds, and read three chapters of W. J. Pardoner, when he 
was left some money. He received the news when he reached home 
one night an hour and a half late, for the bus had had to crawl 
through smog, though the name had not then been coined. It was, 
perhaps, the French or Jewish blood in his veins, but Edward had 
never been able to rejoice in smog, and was not, like the newspapers, 
proud of it, as if it were a great national achievement. Yet this 
particular specimen of smog served a purpose, by ensuring that he 
reached the house in a very bad temper and consequently did not 
give way to his father in the argument which arose out of his 
legacy. 

Mr. Tillotson must have come out of the living-room as soon as he 
heard Edward's key in the lock, for he was in the hall waiting for him 
as he entered the house, and he immediately said, 'Your grandpa has 
died of a heart attack.' 

As Mr. Tillotson had not spoken to his father for twenty years 
and Edward knew that there had never been any affection between 
them, he did not say that he was sorry, nor did he realize that his 
father was distressed; not that by dying an unloved parent puts 
himself or herself eternally in the right, leaving the unloving son or 
daughter a prey to irrational remorse. Edward said something like 
'Oh' or 'Really?' and his father, unreasonably hurt by this in- 
difference, said, angrily, 'Well, you might say something. How would 
you be feeling if I had died of a heart attack ?' 

'I'm sorry,' Edward said, 'but I only saw him once, when I was 
little. And I didn't think you felt . . .' 

'He's left you some money,' his father interrupted hastily, perhaps 
anxious to avoid going into his feelings on the occasion. 'It was his 
solicitor who wrote, and as you're the only legatee, he mentioned 
it.' 

19 



*Good Lord!' Edward said, checked the impulse to ask how much, 
and said 'Thanks* to Maud Olantigh who put her head round the 
living-room door to say that there was a plate of food keeping warm 
in the oven for him — they had high tea, not dinner. Edward knew 
that his grandfather had been living in a home for the aged, but even 
so he had time to see himself going into a great, glittering show- 
room and writing a cheque for a Rolls-Royce in which to drive to the 
South of France where they had no smog, and there keep a high-class 
tart in a flat decorated in gilt and brocade, before his father, following 
him into the kitchen, could say, 'Don't you want to know how 
much ?* 

'All right,' Edward said, 'how much?' He went to the oven and 
took out a plate of fish and chips. Maud Olantigh always said that 
fish and chips was the apiece de resistance of English cuisine^ and that 
it was silly to be snobbish about it; she had even earned six guineas 
for saying this in a magazine read by women who did not eat fish 
and chips. Edward saw that the chips had dried hard into little 
mahogany-coloured sticks, but he disliked them less in that con- 
dition than in the pale and flabby state. 

'Two hundred pounds,' his father said. A moment since Edward 
had been spending money at that rate per hour; it turned out to be 
his whole fortune; yet it still seemed like riches. *I shall invest it for 
you,' his father added. 

Edward put his plate on the table and got a knife and fork from 
the dresser drawer and looked at him. He was wearing a soiled 
woollen dressing-gown over a collarless striped shirt ; the neck-band 
was dirty. His trousers sagged dismally over carpet slippers below 
the skirt of the gown. There was a dark bristle on his chin. His hair, 
yellowish-grey in the raw kitchen light, stuck up in a crest. Edward 
thought, 'The old are disgusting,' and said, 'Aren't I to have the 
money, then ?' 

'Your grandpa cannot have intended you to have it until you are 
of age.' 

'May I see the lawyer's letter?' 

'I wish you wouldn't talk with your mouth full,' Mr. Tillotson 
said, and put his hand into the pocket of the dressing-gown. He kept 
it there and watched his son eating for a full half-minute. Then he 
took it out, holding the letter, and put it down beside Edward's plate. 
Edward said, 'The envelope's addressed to me.' 

*I saw the lawyer's name on the flap and recognized it and so I 
opened it.' And, as if Edward's silence had been a rebuke, 'I've a 

20 



perfect right to, you know. Not only a moral right, in fact a duty, 
but a perfect legal right.* 

Edward read the letter while eating the hard, greasy potato chips 
with his fingers. He said, *It doesn't say anything about me having 
to be twenty-one. It says I can call and sign the papers and receive 
the cheque any time after the end of the month.' 

'Your grandpa certainly didn't intend you to have the use of it 
at your age.' 

*It doesn't say anything about that here.' 

Edward felt himself being firm and cool, and thought of Shylock 
in The Merchant of Venice, because he had played the part on speech- 
day in his last term at school. He 'could not find it in the bond'. His 
father crossed the room to stand with his back to the kitchen range, 
which was out but still warm. From there, behind Edward's back, he 
said: 

'I've never played the heavy father. It's always been man to man 
between you and me, Edward.' 

Edward thought that this probably came from the kind of book 
his father read in spite of Maud Olantigh's influence. He did not 
know how to put a stop to it and had to listen. Mr. Tillotson went on 
for some time while Edward peeled the foil off the sort of cheese 
which tastes vaguely of soap. His father came and sat down at the 
table facing him and said, 'The fact is, I'm a bit short this quarter.' 

'I'll give you half.' 

'A loan only, of course. I'll return it whenever you want it. Or 
bank it for you, or buy a few war loan perhaps.' 

'No. I'll give you half and keep the other half for myself.' 

Edward did this because, looking at his father, he found no trace 
of love or respect in his heart, and it made him uneasy. He would 
rather have given the money to his Aunt Sarah at Goudhurst; rather 
to Mr. Pardoner, even, if he could not keep it all for himself. But no 
doubt he had to pay for finding his father repulsive and, in his need 
to ask for the money he had tried to swindle him out of, abject. 
Edward saw his father struggling to say a simple 'Thank you' and 
turned away his head. And Mr. Tillotson could not do it; it was 
more than he could compass. Edward was aware of being on the 
brink of tears. Mr. Tillotson got up from his chair and said, 'Well, 
we'll see about that,' and went hastily out of the room. 



21 



Edward's second distraction from the boredom of work was Doris. 
Doris was one of the girls ; she was also, until she emerged vividly, 
obsessingly, like an acute pain which will not be ignored, the in- 
carnation of their combined femaleness. It was impossible, at 
eighteen, to be among so many young girls and not be disturbed, 
repelled and attracted. The fact of there being so many of them would 
in the long run have 'neutralized' them, turned them from a couple 
of hundred individual females into part of the office furniture ; if it 
had not been for Doris. 

When they were provoked by Edward's awkward manner, by the 
distance fear made him keep, by his muttered greetings when a 
greeting could not be avoided, and they decided to get at him, they 
did it in the canteen where they were safe from Mrs. Mills, the 
overseer. For a time he was driven to get his lunch at the pub which 
Mr. Pardoner frequented. The Bald-faced Nag. But the meal there 
cost him at least eightpence more than in the firm's canteen, even if 
he braved the old waiter's contempt and forewent the half-pint of 
sour beer and forgot his threepenny tip. Moreover, it was borne in 
on him that Mr. Pardoner did not like to see him there. The first time 
he appeared in the shabby dining-room with its dirty damask table- 
cloths and its smell of cabbage and old cigarette smoke, and on every 
subsequent occasion, Mr. Pardoner's manner, very different from its 
candour in the office, was distant and a little sulky: he looked up 
from his paper, nodded, did not smile, froze Edward away from his 
table. He had no mind to allow the privacy of his lunch hour to be 
encroached on. Edward took his attitude as a snub and was hurt ; and 
confused, at first, when his office manner continued open and 
friendly. Only later did Edward understand that Mr. Pardoner was a 
man to whom habit, an established routine, was so important that 
he was upset if it was disturbed, so that company welcome at noon 
was very unwelcome at one o'clock. 

Edward was partly driven by Mr. Pardoner, partly drawn by 
Doris, back to the canteen. Drawn by Doris, so beautiful, so 
mysterious and so cruel. There, he was alone at the mercy of the 
girls. He made no friends, and that, probably, was not because he 
was unamiable or so much above his company in his own estimation, 
as because he had an instinct not to involve himself with anyone 

22 



who, unlike Mr. Pardoner, was not only at Mendoza's, but of it; 
anyone who went on the annual treat and joined the sports club and 
the dramatic society. He had always to console himself for being 
there with the reassurance that his membership of this community 
was temporary and provisional and would surely be of brief duration. 

The ways in which *the girls' got at him before Doris took a hand 
were not elaborate nor bold. They would gather into close bunches, 
like startled heifers, when he passed, and just stare with a bright 
light of mockery in their eyes. Or, going one step further, they would 
whisper together, obviously about him, and then all break suddenly 
into those hoots and screams of laughter without mirth, an expres- 
sion of general excitement or sometimes of active hostility, like the 
barking of a house-dog. Edward should have taken no notice; or 
become aggressive himself, been easier, more natural with them : they 
would have been friendly enough. But at eighteen he did not know 
that the alien can discourage the heaving of half-bricks at his 
foreignness if he has the courage to demonstrate that it is superficial. 
It was not only this ignorance which was his enemy : it was obsession 
with Doris, who had taken no part in tormenting him, and whose 
name he knew only because he had heard one of the other girls call 
out to her. He had not even discovered his own condition until one 
evening at home Maud Olantigh threw down a book she was reading 
and said, T can't read this novel. The heroine's name is Doris. It 
makes her common.' Edward became extremely angry: he actually 
yelled at Mrs. Olantigh that it was a stupid thing to say and that 
anyway Doris was one of the most beautiful names a girl could have, 
and — though he was not clear what this had to do with it — that it 
was Greek. 

A description of Doris, purged by detachment of those excesses 
of Edward's admiration which could hardly have found adequate 
expression in all the sensual images of erotic poetry, would say little 
more than that she was a strikingly pretty girl with smooth black 
hair, a well-shaped, full, rather loose mouth, a small-waisted figure 
and what are often called, vulgarly no doubt but arrestingly, bed- 
room eyes, which were of that pleasing shape in which the upper 
curve has a smaller radius than the lower. 

Day-dreams of Doris were soon leaving no room for boredom 
and little for study, while night-dreams destroyed Edward's rest. 
No doubt he gave himself away, perhaps by staring at her in the 
great barn of a sorting-room where they both worked, without 
realizing that he was doing so; by 'mooning' after her; by being, as 

23 



the word was, soppy. Whether for this or for some other reason 
Doris, and not one of those who had been forward in tormenting 
him, committed an atrocious outrage against his modesty. He was 
just leaving the canteen, heavy with steak pudding. She came straight 
up to him at the head of four or five other girls, and caught him by 
the door. His knees shook to have her so near to him and his mouth 
became painfully dry. He could not have spoken, but in any case 
there was no need, for Doris said, *I know you won't mind us speak- 
ing to you, Mr. Tillotson, but would you mind if we asked you a 
question ?' 

She spoke what she would have called lah-di-dah, in mocking 
imitation of Edward's own relatively correct speech — his father had 
somehow acquired a more or less 'public school' accent which had 

prevailed in Edward over the semi-cockney of the C.S.B. . He 

managed a nod; perhaps he even croaked out a 'yes', or said that he 
did not mind. 

'You read books and study a lot, we know that,' Doris said. 'You 
must know an awful lot. And we're only ignorant girls. But there's 
a word and we were wondering what it means and had a bit of an 
argument about it, like, and we was wondering if you'd be so kind 
as to tell us what it means.' 

Edward tried, for all he was certain of disaster poised over him, to 
make himself easy. He was still shaking and he even began to feel 
sick with fear and desire. Mumbling, he said he would be glad to 
define the word if he knew it. 

'That's ever so kind of you. It's a word we saw written up on a 
wall.' With her widely innocent eyes on Edward's face, she uttered 
it, sharp and clear. It had the effect of a hard slap in the face. He felt 
himself turn white and then his face was burning. There were surely 
tears in his eyes as he turned from the girls and ran down the stairs 
with their hooting laughter loud behind him. All that afternoon he 
sat at his desk frigidly controlling every movement, concentrating on 
keeping his self-possession and on putting out of his mind the two 
alternating scenes which were using it, the scene of his humiliation, 
and another, imaginary, offspring of the word she had uttered, not 
knowing pehaps that in his tribe it was tabu to women, at least at 
that time ; and the fact that it was she who had uttered it, she^ Doris. 

At least the relief which would come with five o'clock when the 
girls left would be lengthened into a respite by the fact that he had 
the whole of the next day off: Mr. Pardoner had granted him that, 
to go to the lawyer's and collect his legacy. He tried to think of that : 

24 



he had written to ask for payment in bank-notes. A cheque would 
have had to go through his father's bank account and Edward would 
have had difficulty in recovering his share. Yet it was not with relief 
only that h dwelt on the fact that he would not have to face Doris 
the next day. He was, although he did not recognize the condition, 
passionately in love with her. Sentimental love is a chronic state at 
eighteen ; uneasy and generalized desire, another. Social customs too 
frequently ensure that she who becomes the object of the second is 
not the object of the first. But there was no such ambivalence in 
Edward's case, and a strange truth forced its way into his resisting 
mind: that there had been pleasure mingled with the pain of his 
humiliation at Doris's hands; and that the word she had atrociously 
asked him to define had the sound of a challenge and was, despite its 
base currency, in the language of some part of his feelings. 
* * * 

Edward collected his legacy the next day and took a bus from the 
solicitor's oflice to Highfield Pavement, a sort of small fossilized 
village embedded between the limbo of old, decaying suburb about 
Brougham Square, which marched with terra cognita at the latitude 
of King's Cross, and Overbury Park South. He went to 'the Pave- 
ment' as the natives called it, to pay his father's half of the legacy into 
the bank — there was a branch there but none at Overbury Park itself 
— and from there he walked through the grey desolation of late 
Victorian streets rapidly falling into slumhood which was Overbury 
Park South. He crossed the eight railway tracks of the King's Cross- 
Anglesey lines by the old iron footbridge, into Overbury Park North, 
his own calf country, and skirted what remained of the park proper. 
His way included a short street one side of which was the iron railing 
of the park ; he could see the chalet-like hut where the kangaroo had 
lived in one side and the emu in the other, ignoring each other, 
neither having the air of mitigating the other's loneliness. He 
supposed the creatures long since dead, and remembered days when 
his mother took him there and sat on a bench reading Le Matin 
while he ran about, usually alone, but occasionally playing with a 
little girl whose name, if he had ever known it, he had forgotten. Her 
mother brought her there; Edward remembered her as a bright-faced 
yet somehow shrunken woman in shabby clothes and with a way, 
which he clearly recalled, of raising her hand and moving it in a 
gesture of emphasis before her face, as if pushing a cobweb away. 

At the end of that street was the Overbury Park Motor Mart, a 
whole street of second-hand motor-car dealers which looked like 

25 



a long, narrow breaker's yard, not because the cars were any worse 
than others of their kind, but because the parking places were the front 
gardens of tall, late Victorian houses whose basements had become 
lumber rooms full of old and new tyres and the spare parts of a 
hundred diverse 'models'; and whose first and second floors, and 
even attics, were offices of that permanently provisional kind which 
seems to be peculiar to the motor-car and aircraft trades. They were 
occupied by the dealers themselves and by such auxiliaries as small 
and questionable hire-purchase companies and the agencies of 'non- 
tariff' insurance houses. 

This street had always attracted Edward by its strangeness: 
*. . . they say the Morris and the Austin keep the Courts where 
once . . .' Some of the front gardens had been cleared of railings, 
party-fences and shrubs, and covered with concrete to serve their 
new purpose. Others, in the hands of firms less able to afford such 
luxuries, retained odd bits of fence or clumps of laurel on which, in 
autumn, still appeared the bright red oval berries, gracefully decorat- 
ing the bent mudguards or torn fabric of old, still serviceable motor- 
cars. There were even some trees left, two tall, gaunt elms, and, half- 
dead below, still green and hideously bristling above, a single 
auracaria, a monkey-puzzle tree, towering absurdly above a huddled 
collection of third- and fourth-hand sports cars. 

Edward loitered down the street, looking at the cars, and, no 
doubt because he had money in his pocket, noting, for the first time, 
the prices daubed in whitewash across their windscreens. It was a 
dead time of day, for the car mart did its business between six and 
darkness in summer and in winter on Saturdays and Sundays. There 
were no salesmen standing, sharp-eyed as brothel touts in the 
degraded cities of Islam, to pounce on any loiterer who might perhaps 
be made to lust after the unfashionable Hnes and dulled metal of their 
goods. But when Edward halted to admire an old Sunbeam tourer 
whose still elegant lines proved its designer to have been something 
more than an engineer, a young man with his hair set by cream into 
a blonde skullcap, and with a colossal woollen scarf in some school or 
club colours wound round his neck, shot out from behind the car 
and said, 'Like her? Beautifully clean, and as frisky as ever even if 
she is a bit long in the tooth.' 

'Yes,' Edward said, and, 'I'm afraid I'm not a buyer.' 

'Never know till you try. Besides, you can't call it buying, really, 
not this one. Giving her away with a pound of tea at forty quid. No 
sense in the prices in our trade. The old Sunbeam's twice as good as 

26 



anything in the street up to ten years younger. Cars are like women, 
all the better for a bit of experience. This job was forged and turned 
on a lathe, not stamped out of tin like a German toy engine.' 

Edward liked the salesman at once. He began to see merits in the 
old Sunbeam which it took this keen critic to reveal. The salesman 
raised the bonnet and began pointing things out, *Coil and magneto, 
see ? I tell you, they were thorough when they built this job. Not like 
the rubbish they make now, though I shouldn't say it, crying stinking 
fish, eh? Forty quid. It's murder, old man, murder.' 

T can't even drive,' Edward said. 

'Was a time when you couldn't walk, old man, but you didn't 
let it beat you. Buy her and I'll teach you to drive. No charge.' 

'Seriously?' 

*Why not? Creating a new customer for the trade. At our age, you 
can learn in a couple of hours. And you'U've got a bargain.' 

Edward smiled at him and he winked ; it was true that he was not 
much older than Edward, who said, 'When?' 

'No time like the present as the sailor said. Got an hour to 
spare?' 

'Yes, but I haven't the money on me,' Edward lied. 

'You've got it somewhere, bank, stocking or post-office, it's all 
the same to Ernie Topper, that's me, if he gets his hands on it in due 
course. Come to that, old man, you won't be taking her away today. 
Pay when you do.' 

It was because he wanted to keep an escape open that Edward had 
lied about the money. Tomorrow might change his mind. But at 
the end of an hour's lesson there was no question of that. To have 
so much power in his hands was delight ; and new. He was quick to 
learn. 

'You're good,' Ernie said, 'and you'll be very good. See you at 
Brooklands yet, busting records I shouldn't wonder. The thing 
about a car,' he went on, suddenly the philosopher, 'is the way it 
gives you freedom. Puts the world at your feet as they say.' 

Edward did not know that this was untrue; and after all it was a 
mistake all but the greatest of men were making at the time and had 
been for a century. Ernie was an enthusiast; he was even a poet for 
whom life was motion. He imposed his opinion because he felt it. 
No philosopher can do more. 

Edward had another lesson, and bought a licence on Saturday. On 
Sunday he and Ernie drove to Folkestone in the first January fog 
and when they returned that evening Ernie said that Edward could 



take the car away on Monday. 'Fifty- two quid with the Hcence and 
third-party cover. See you tomorrow night?' 

'Right you are, Ernie.' 

* * * 

On Monday evening it was dark when Edward left Mendoza's 
great barrack and stepped out into the street. It was a clear darkness 
and for the first time that winter the air did not cling to his skin like 
the cold water of a suicide's plunge, but was dry and buoyant: a 
small pleasure, but he was smiHng as he walked towards the bus- 
stop. There was a girl standing under the first street-lamp from the 
staff entrance but he did not even glance at her, for there were usually 
one or two girls hanging about, waiting for a man to leave work. He 
was going over in his mind the scene of breaking the news about the 
car to his father. Not that he had anything to be afraid of: he had 
bought acquiescence in anything he might do for a month or two, 
paying half his fortune. As he reached the street-lamp the waiting 
girl stepped out and fell in beside him and, startled, Edward looked 
at her. It was Doris, and, 'You look happy for once,' she said. 

Edward's face was saved by the brief penumbra midway between 
her lamp and the next one, but despite the kindly darkness he found 
nothing to say and she went on, 'Here, I waited to say I was sorry. 
I wouldn't never have done it but how was I to know you'd be that 
upset ?' 

You don't know much at eighteen, though what you know is more 
important than anything you learn afterwards. Edward attributed 
this handsome behaviour to the sweet nature that most marvellously 
— yet surely what he had known all the time ? — went with her lovely 
face. In a voice starting deep and ending shrill he said, 'That's all 
right.' 

They passed into the bright region of another street-lamp and 
he turned his head to look at her and she turned hers to look at 
him. He felt himself blush. They both smiled. Edward said, 'Look, 
vou surely didn't wait all that time just to . . .' 

'What if I did ? What's your first name ?' 

'Edward. Yours is Doris.' 

'Fancy you knowing! You going home now ?' 

'Not directly. Are you ?' 

'It don't matter. I do what I like, see.' 

'I'm going to buy a car.' 

'Get on! Pull the other one, mate!' 

'No, really. It's all arranged.' 

28 



*Coo. Here, take me with you.' 

'Why not? Where d'you live?' 

*Me?'011oway.' 

*I live in Overbury Park. I could take you home when we get the 
car. We could go out to tea first.' 

They did not talk on the bus. From time to time Edward looked 
sideways at Doris. The pure profile had extraordinary distinction, a 
'breeding' which, when she was silent, he found almost intimidating. 
It needed the mutilated speech she used, and the coarseness of her 
mind — naturally it was not so that he thought of it then — to bring 
her within his reach, to give him his share of advantage. To approach 
beauty you have to find a flaw in it; those were her obvious flaws, 
not, of course, seen as such by Edward. 

It did not, probably, occur to him to wonder why Doris had made 
so determined an advance. The Israelites did not wonder where 
manna came from when they found it in the desert, or feel themselves 
undeserving of it: they were too hungry by then. Doris broke long 
silence to say, 'You don't 'ave to do that job at the fact'ry, do you ?' 

Tt's a sort of start. Training, you know.' 

Tt's what I thought. What with buying a car an' all.' 

'It's not much of a car. I mean, it's pretty old.' 

'How old are you?' 

'Twenty.' 

'Get on! You ain't no twenty.' 

'Well, nearly, nineteen actually.' 

'So'm I.' 

The car was ready for him. He went into the house with Ernie to 
pay over the money and get a receipt. When they came out Doris 
was sitting in the passenger seat. Ernie winked at Edward and jerked 
a cocked thumb. Edward did not mind; he liked it. Getting into the 
driving seat he told Doris he was sorry there was no rug. He was: 
he wanted to wrap her up warm. 

'You're a scream!' she said, and, 'Fancy me!' 
* * * 

Having a motor-car changed the atmosphere and the values of 
Edward's life. 'Having a car' comes before 'having Doris' because 
he might not have had her without it ; nor, if the word be given its 
vulgar meaning, did he, in fact, 'have' Doris. Without the car, the 
only outcome of her wait for him under the street-lamp that evening 
would have been to shake him out of that protective reserve into 
which she had shocked him and in which he was of no more use to 

29 



her than a stubbornly resistant prisoner to a police inquisitor who 
has made the mistake of starting his questioning with the arc-light 
and rubber truncheon instead of tea and cigarettes. By getting a car, 
even an old one, Edward became a first-class citizen; he bore the 
symbol of the instruments of power. At the factory the girls' teasing 
became good-natured and flattering; because although he had not 
touched her he was Doris's love en titre, at least in the Brougham 
Square sector of her compartmented life; and as such he was of 
interest to her cronies. 

He did not at once try to make love to her, in the first place because 
he did not know how to set about it, but also because now that it had 
become possible, now that she had ceased to be something he could 
not get and therefore wanted obsessively, it was not quite so im- 
portant. As to not knowing how to set about it, the fact was that they 
were foreigners to each other : the customs of her tribe were unknown 
to him. This should not have mattered because it seemed clear that 
she belonged to the class of girls in which, hunting in couples through 
certain streets in Overbury Park, Finsbury Park and even as far 
away as Holloway, the more emancipated C.S.B. sixth-formers had 
sought and found their 'pick-ups'. None of the parties to such 
encounters ever thought in terms of 'love' ; the game was for what 
some, borrowing an army term, called facetiously slap-and-tickle. The 
word 'necking' will not do; it has the wrong social implications. At 
all events the hurried and uncomfortable embraces, stopping short 
in all but the most exceptional cases at mutual masturbation, were 
their equivalent to the French collegien's first visit to a brothel ; it is 
well known that compromise is the English virtue. 

But with Doris and Edward the matter was not so simple. She was 
raised out of the slap-and-tickle class as far as he was concerned by 
the quality of her beauty, which seemed to him to impose not a 
particular rule on himself only, but a general rule on everyone who 
approached her. It did nothing of the kind, of course; it was simply 
that he had made the mistake of approaching her first by way of the 
imagination. But it is true that her beauty was, objectively, of an 
unusual kind. There might be very pretty girls among those who 
were nightly and willingly hunted by prowling youth in the dismal 
streets tributary to the Seven Sisters Road ; but their prettiness was 
reassuringly common. And although common be a relative term, so 
that a person of the upper classes would probably not have been 
able to distinguish any difference between the general appearance 
and manners of the working-class girls and the lower middle-class 

30 



youths who appHed it to them, yet it did signify a real though perhaps 
subtle difference which gave the youths a reassuring sense of class 
superiority. It established, as it were, a measure of exogamy in these 
short relationships, one of the advantages of which is that the man, 
out of his own tribe, can with good conscience shed his tabus. You 
could not put your hand up the skirts of your sister's friends. But with 
the prowling skivvies and factory girls it was all right to try anything. 

But because in Edward's eyes there was nothing common about 
Doris's kind of beauty, it unclassed her; it elevated her to the 
sister's-friend class. It is true that the ugliness of her speech and the 
coarse commonplaces which her mind produced, the roughness of 
her hands and the dirt under her painted finger-nails, should have 
set her back in the class of girl with whom no holds were barred. But 
Edward was in love with Doris, and as that is a subjective condition 
it did not matter what she was; all that mattered was what he made 
of her. Doris became a sort of human Christmas-tree on which he 
hung all sorts of fanciful decorations made out of literature. 

So that he did not hear Doris's voice or see her hands as flaws; 
but nor, with the simple and eager optimism of C.S.B., did he see 
them as a sign that there would be 'something doing'. They were not 
subtracted from what the pure and refined beauty of her profile in 
repose amounted to, but on the contrary added to it; they became 
pathetic, almost tear-jerking evidence of the hardness of her lot, thus 
enhancing all her other qualities. And a girl who had had all Doris's 
beauty and animation and at the same time clean finger-nails, correct 
speech and interesting thoughts would not have been more attractive 
to him but less attractive; in fact altogether neutral and uninteresting. 

And Edward, who must have seemed insipid as a lover to a girl 
accustomed to the more robust approach of her HoUoway slum, was 
given an unexpected hold over her by what, to her, was strange in 
his approach, by the sentimentality, which she must have called 
soppiness but been flattered by, of the things he said and even wrote 
to her; and by his hesitation, during the first few weeks, to go beyond 
holding her hand when they drove rather aimlessly about in the 
Sunbeam and stopped in some dark, semi-rural lane where the 
suburban sprawl began to peter out into Hertfordshire pastures, the 
purpose of which halts being, ostensibly, 'to smoke a cigarette'. 
(Later, when Edward read Proust under Ceha Woodreeve's in- 
fluence, he recognized their 'to smoke a cigarette' as Swann and 
Odette's f aire catleya.) 

Perhaps, in pre-cinema times, Edward's conduct would not have 

31 



been received by Doris as flattering and touching, and as tending 
to elevate her into the class her face entitled her to. It is difficult 
to make this point with sufficient emphasis, the point of the quality, 
not the bare fact, of Doris's beauty, because not only is beauty to 
some extent a matter of fashion, but in this, as in other attributes, 
there has been a rapid proletarianization of standards during the 
quarter of a century here in question. In twenty-five years of swift 
social change, quality in beauty like quality in goods has been 
levelled down. It has, in fact, become very much a matter of hyper- 
trophied secondary sexual characteristics, representing a return to 
primitive standards which goes very logically with the shedding of 
elaborate manners. But the change has been as recent as that in, for 
example, the fabrics from which clothes are made. 

Without the motor-car, then, Edward's love would have been 
ridiculous to Doris, and even more impotent than it long remained. 
Not that Doris was crudely calculating, and kind to him only because 
it was convenient to have a vehicle at her disposal and a young man 
with a little more money than one of her own class would then have 
had. (Edward did not earn more; but he was not made to pay 
anything at home.) But no doubt the car made him more interesting 
and powerful as, in a higher class, a fortune or an old title would 
have done. Labruyere said, *It is but a sad business to be in love 
without a large fortune.' The Sunbeam was Edward's large fortune. 

But although this could and did make Doris go through the 
motions of a sweetheart, it also ensured his discontent, in fact his 
misery, a misery which did not, indeed, last very long but was none 
the less acute. For she did no more than go through the motions; 
and though she took her own pleasure iu doing so, it was in a state of 
emotional neutrality: her body only was involved, and there was 
never any question of her responding with love. In short, she was by 
nature a 'light' woman. And when Edward showed his discontent, 
pestered her to say she loved him, and showed that he longed for her 
to be as much alone with him as he with her in the midst of their 
fellow-workers at Mendoza's, that their love cut them off from the 
rest and put a fence round the isolated pair they were in his imagina- 
tion, she became impatient and, since these demands were usually 
manifested after a kissing and holding session, she would say, 'What 
more do you want.^' 

What more he wanted was to see her made singular, her old 
loyalties entirely broken by love ; to be able to look across the room 
to the long table where she worked and see at a glance that, seated 

32 



among hundreds, she was divorced from them, absent, all the time 
with him, not them. Whereas she was as much the life and soul of 
her clique of giggling, shrill-voiced, often foul-mouthed friends as 
she had ever been, and as ready to join in their secret, elaborate, only 
half articulate mockery of Edward as ever, if not in that open 
teasing — Mr. Pardoner's *chi-iking' — which, indeed, she more or less 
put a stop to. 

The car made a difference at home, too. The way Edward first 
announced his possession of it was to drive up to the house, go in, 
and say to his father and Maud who were idling after Sunday dinner, 
'Come and see what I've got!' 

It was said with a sort of worked-up high spirits, an unsuitable 
'mischievousness' which, even in his own shrinking ears, sounded 
spuriously arch. But they came out with him, Maud Olantigh giving 
an elaborate shiver of distaste at the contact of the raw January air 
after the fug of the close sitting-room with its heavy plush curtains 
on their massive mahogany rod, the thick old Turkey carpet, the 
big coal fire, the standard lamp with its crimson shade switched on at 
three in the afternoon because that room was so dark. It was a late 
Victorian interior, inherited with the house and never changed 
because there was no money for what Maud called gracious living 
— the words were not yet funny — and it was perfectly serviceable. 

Mr. Tillotson examined the Sunbeam and listened to his son's 
explanation in silence. He had been more or less asleep when, with 
about as much real spontaneity as an elderly professional jeurie 
premier Edward had burst in on them, youth rousing stuffy middle- 
age from sloth. His face was puffy and his hair untidy. When 
Edward could find no more to say and Mr. Tillotson still continued 
sulkily silent, Maud, conscientiously on the side of youth, said. T'm 
sure it was a great bargain, Edward. If I put my best hat on so as 
not to disgrace you, will you take me for a drive one day ?' 

'Delighted, I'm sure,' Edward said, in cockney. 

His father spoke; or rather, to use some weightier word called 
for by his manner, gave utterance, at last, 'I've never come the heavy 
father. It is no business of mine what you do with your own money. 
I should have thought it would have been wiser . . . however, heaven 
forbid that I should spoil your pleasure in this toy, if it's the sort of 
thing you want from life.' That was all; the hundred pounds Edward 
had given him had been an excellent investment: it created an 
equilibrium, almost a tension, between them which, considered by 
Edward in mathematical terms, w^as a thing of poised beauty. At 

33 



every crisis, when Mr. Tillotson's exasperation at Edward's in- 
creasingly bold assumptions of freedom rose to a peak, his son could, 
by a look, imply that he was on the very point of asking for his money 
back. There would follow a pause, a silence during which the two 
forces, Mr. Tillotson's threat of anger and Edward's of financial 
pressure, trained against each other and then, neutralizing each other, 
sank again into flatness. The wave was past, the crisis over. 

Mr. Pardoner, although he must have known, did not at first make 
even the remotest circumlocutory allusion to Edward being in love 
with Doris. His attention must have been called to it by the younger 
man's fits of bad-tempered absence: all day long Edward could 
watch Doris at her work across the room and, deliberately, she never 
looked his way. And although this discretion was, in the circum- 
stances, sensible, he would brood on it until it became of a piece 
with the fact that she would allow him no nearer to the house where 
her parents lived (they occupied one floor only, the rest being sublet 
to lodgers), than the end of her road; and that she would not talk 
about her past at all. It was not less, but more unpleasant to be 
jealous of what he did not know and had to imagine, of a whole 
family circle, of young men who had been brought up with her, with 
whom she had played in the streets, who had nicknames for her, who 
naturally spoke the native tongue of the Holloway slums, a language 
whose subtler meanings, allusions, historical associations and social 
undertones were as unknown to him as if it had been Chinese. These 
jealous pains, if not as atrocious, were at least as absorbing as a 
severe toothache; and made Edward's conduct as unsatisfactory, 
from Mr. Pardoner's point of view, as toothache would have done. 
And he made a curious discovery about himself: he distrusted the 
condition (the antithesis of boredom), of being utterly absorbed in 
another person, distrusted 'love', regretted his lost emotional freedom 
in which anything was possible but one remained at one's own dis- 
posal. His self, his I, was being eroded, and he resented it. With so 
much to occupy his heart and mind it might have been supposed that 
he would neglect the voluntary work which Mr. Pardoner's concern 
with his idleness had suggested to him. Nothing of the sort; he 
flew to it with more eagerness than he had gone to it in his flight 
from boredom. He applied himself to it with a sense of urgency 
which he did not really understand, unless it was that, just as Doris 
cast a new, brighter, more poignant light for him upon physical 
objects, so that the dusty crocuses of Overbury Park front gardens, 
the tender green of horse-chestnut burgeonings, the manifold browns 

34 



and buffs of the sparrows which fought and twittered in the gutters, 
were very brilHant for him that early spring, so, too, the excellent if 
simple truths of physics which he found in Abrams, in Simmonds 
and in Pardoner on Alternating Currents, assumed an elegance 
which he had not been conscious of before, and became exciting 
clues to be followed towards a conclusion still hidden but of enor- 
mous promise. At all events he made far more rapid progress than 
before. And not only in 'his' subjects; he found himself cutting 
down his sleep to six hours and suffering no inconvenience, and 
reading voraciously, as if his mind had become morbidly hungry. 
He read all Maud Olantigh's books, but especially those which she 
kept on her shelves in much the same spirit as those Catholics who 
do no more than their Easter duty in the course of a year, but who 
have an image of Our Lady, or a Crucifix, somewhere on the walls 
of their room. These, in short, were the books which were there to 
reassure her that she was what she conceived herself to be, a woman 
of culture. But she did not, and perhaps could not, actually read 
them; her mind had once, no doubt, been capable of enjoying them 
but it had shrunk with the nature of her work ; and, perhaps, because 
she was deeply (to Edward, inexplicably) attached to Mr. Tillotson, 
she hid from herself a taste which must entail contempt for his utter 
want of it. 

Edward read her George Eliots, her Jane Austens, her Balzacs and 
Anatole Frances, her Thackerays, Tolstoys and Dostoevskys. And 
other books, whose presence on those shelves was due to some 
accidental acquisition: with his C.S.B. German, on which he had 
been able to concentrate at school because French being his first 
language he never had to learn it, and a dictionary, he, improbably, 
made a good deal of his way through Musil's Der Mann Ohne 
Eigenschaften before anyone in England had ever heard of it. He 
read Prescott's Conquest of Peru, Mommsen, a seventeenth-century 
translation of the Phaedo, and a thick anthology of the metaphysical 
poets. As well as these classics, Mrs. Olantigh was always acquiring, 
a year behind time, the fashionable novels: thus, Edward read 
Dreiser and Aldous Huxley; but also such now forgotten successes 
as Carl van Vechten and J-R. Bloch. 

Absurdly, he talked to Doris about what he read; it was a mono- 
logue offered up to her, a hymn to the goddess, the best he had and 
therefore hers. Each such monologue ended only when, bored beyond 
what she was prepared to tolerate, she would say, 'You and your 
books! For Chrissakes give over.' For the world of ideas was quite 

35 



closed to her. He did not criticize Doris for this faiUng, even in his 
heart ; to him it was not a failing ; Doris was of his own making, and 
he was able to see her complete absence from this world of ideas as, 
if not deliberate, at least 'instinctive', a wholesome rejection of all 
but the concrete. The only thing approximating to an art which they 
could enjoy together was the cinema. They went twice, even three 
times a week. Doris enjoyed the pictures, although in a very passive 
way, rather as a cow may be supposed to enjoy a good sit-down-and- 
chew, so that these spectacles did not really provide them with 
anything to talk about. Edward might have something to say about 
the story or the beauty of the photography, or the acting : Doris never 
did. She laughed, in a way which might be described as cruel, for 
it was quite without the quality of innocent enjoyment, at broad 
farce: Laurel and Hardy, two knock-about comedians, were 
favourites. But nothing else seemed to move her. She and Edward 
sat close together with his arm round her waist and her head on his 
shoulder. By this attitude she committed her body, but no more, to 
Edward's increasing unhappiness which, curiously, was felt as a 
loss, as if he had known her before and she had been different then. 
After the pictures her only comment would be, 'Isn't she (less often, 
he) lovely?' naming a star. And that, no doubt, rather than a story 
she was perhaps not always able to follow, was what she enjoyed: 
watching a human being who excelled in, and was often depicted as 
exploiting, what, because it was her own excellence, she could 
understand : beauty of person. 

Sometimes they went for a drive but Doris was listless away from 
town. Driving home, whether from the pictures or the country (the 
unbuilt-on bits of Hertfordshire beyond Whetstone), Edward 
always stopped in the same unfrequented side-road which led 
through a still self-respecting quarter into her own semi-slum, and 
they had their fifteen or twenty minutes of holding tight and kissing. 
Here, too, Doris was Edward's own creation: had he started the 
association not romantically but, as any youth not in love with her 
would have done, lustfully, he could have gone, as they said at 
C.S.B., the 'whole hog'. But by his own conduct he had driven her to 
value her favours at a new level ; her currency, if only for him, had 
hardened. So that if his caresses succeeded in exciting her, she 
would check him at once and he, instantly ashamed because this was 
not at all the attitude he had been striking, never persisted. Nor, 
oddly enough, was this so very much of a trial to him : it is so much 
easier to live by rules, even when they take the form of restraints, 

36 



than to live in freedom. By custom their affair had stabilized itself 
at a certain level of licence, and custom was comforting as it always 
is. There was another factor: funk. Edward wanted to 'go the 
whole hog' in the same way that a swimmer wants to plunge into the 
sea on a cold day. It is a thing he knows he will enjoy; it is also a 
kind of obligation, something he owes it to himself to do. But he 
may not be too terribly disappointed if the beach-guards hoist the 
red flag of danger forbidding him to carry out his purpose. 

Edward's romantic behaviour may not have been the only in- 
fluence in giving Doris a more respectable standard of conduct. 
She might not seem to him to take in what she saw at the pictures, 
yet no doubt they had a sort of subliminal influence, they were 
teaching her not to hold herself too cheap as a marketable commodity, 
for that was their lesson to young women. Beauty, she was learning, 
was a commercial as well as a social asset. The triumph of the Pin-up, 
the apotheosis of the Starlet, were being prepared. Doris was being 
drawn into the stream. 

* * * 

One morning, after Edward had known Doris for at least a year, 
he had to go to the dentist and with Mr. Pardoner's permission he 
arrived late for work, at about ten o'clock. He put the Sunbeam into 
the yard which was used as a car-park by directors and managers, 
between two blocks of the factory. A huge, open Mercedes-Benz 
with fat and shining external exhaust pipes, was being parked at the 
same time. The young man at the wheel was David Mendoza, whom 
Edward knew by sight. He was quicker than Edward and walked 
past him as he was getting out of the Sunbeam. He hesitated, halted, 
nodded at the Sunbeam and said, *I must say I like your car.' 

'It's what I could afford,' Edward said, sulkily, although there 
had been nothing patronizing in Mendoza's praise. Mendoza looked 
quickly at Edward's face and away again and faintly blushed. He 
was six or seven years older than Edward. Speaking quickly and 
with a placatory note in his voice, he said, 'You're lucky, then. Oh, 
I don't mean not being able to afford what you want. But like a 
collector of ... of objects of virtu, you know, who hasn't much . . . 
whose resources are limited, and so he has to develop his eye and 
taste all the more. More fun, you see. I mean, your Sunbeam's a 
collector's piece, isn't she ?' 

'Ought to be in a museum, you mean?' 

There was no brave independence in the curtness of Edward's 
answers, in the rejection of the other's advance, or in the refusal to 

37 



call him sir. A very pious High Anglican once said that whereas he 
felt an inner compulsion to treat the bishop with deference, he 
found a familiarity of address quite natural when praying to God 
alone, at his priedieu, and he thought it was because God must be 
free from the prejudices, likes, dislikes, which the bishop, as a man, 
was subject to. David Mendoza was so far above Edward in the 
social-financial hierarchy that Edward felt no need to parade respect : 
nothing he could do or say could possibly have any effect on so 
remote a being. But there was more to his behaviour than that: 
something mean in him which drove him to resist the charm of 
David Mendoza's simplicity. 

'Or do I perhaps mean,' Mendoza picked up Edward's answer 
with a kind of imploring note in his voice, 'that half the things we 
put in museums ought to be in use ? Don't you always think that a 
well-designed, well-made article of use is so much better for us than 
the — well — rather rubbishy stuff we make now?' 

'Nothing rubbishy about that,' Edward said, nodding at the 
Mercedes. 

'No, no, of course, I didn't mean . . .' Mendoza blushed again, as 
if caught out in an attempt at fraud. 'Though as a matter of fact,' he 
went on eagerly, 'she is giving me trouble. Do you know about 
engines.? I mean, do your own maintenance and repairs?' 

'Yes. I can't afford garages. The man who sold me the car has 
been giving me lessons so that I can be my own mechanic' 

'Well, I wish to goodness you'd have a look at mine. They can't 
seem to find the trouble.' 

David Mendoza's father had two chauffeurs; all the mechanics in 
London were ready to serve him ; it was absurd to ask Edward's help ; 
it was also irresistible. Edward did not even ask himself why the 
other young man was pressing his friendship on him. There was, 
in David's charm, a predominance of nature which showed through 
his rather clumsy arts and which, setting all question aside, imposed 
itself. His was, in a measure, the friendliness of a nice dog; it was 
an appeal ; he wanted to be liked, to have none of the enemies which 
economic and social laws must constantly be making him. That he 
had an ulterior motive Edward did not know until later; and had he 
known, it would not have led him to dismiss David's friendliness as 
some kind of humbug, because it so manifestly was nothing of the 
kind. Edward's first reaction to David's appeal had been hostility; 
it broke down under the influence of David's humility. 

'I can try,' Edward said. 

38 



*0h, good! This evening?' 
*If you like.' 

'Which department do you work in ?' 
'Gifts.' 

'With Mr. Pardoner?' 
'Yes.' 

'You're lucky.' 
'In working for him? Yes.' 
'But you don't like the work?' 

They were walking up the stairs side by side, for maintenance men 
were working on the lift. Edward saw the commissionaire stare, and 
imagined his stock rising Hke a rocket. He was pleased, and under- 
stood the feelings of the man who, according to a story Reuben 
Lipschitz had once told his father and which Mr. Tillotson had been 
retailing ever since, went to a Rothschild for help and got it in the 
form of a walk down Lombard Street arm-in-arm with the great 
financier. 

'Would you like it ?' he said to Mendoza's question. 
Mendoza frowned and looked at him sharply and away again in 
the quick, almost birdlike way he had. Edward said, hastily, 'It does 
for a start,' and, as they reached his floor, tempted by the other's 
sympathy, which was almost a kind of empathy, 'I'm going to try 
and be an electrical engineer; I'm reading the maths of the subject 
at the moment.' 

'But that's most interesting and exciting for you. Look, if you 
really will be so kind as to have a look at my motor-car, I'll pick you 
up in your department this afternoon and we can take the car out 
on trial.' 
'All right.' 

As Edward turned towards the lift, which, after a lot of hollow 
shouting up and down the shaft, was working again, he saw Mr. 
Pardoner come out of another office at the far end of the corridor. 
He was at the Hft first and kept it waiting for him, and, as Edward 
closed the gates on them, said : 

'You move in exalted circles, Tillotson.' 
'He admired my car.' 
'Ah. And what did you "make of" him?' 
'Seems all right.' 
'Is that all?' 

'No, it's not,' Edward said, annoyed by Mr. Pardoner's ironical 
tone, 'he seems a jolly decent chap.' 

39 



'I believe that, in the sense you doubtless give that rather general 
description, he is so. Full of charm, isn't he? And no man has a 
right to be so good-looking. They're a remarkable family. The old 
man . . .' 

T've never even seen him.' 

*No, we rarely do. He has his private lift at the back of the build- 
ing. He looks like an El Greco, white beard and prayerful eyes and 
a long thin face . . .' 

*E1 Greco was a painter, wasn't he ?' 

*Ruskin, thou should'st be living at this hour! Yes, he was a 
painter with astigmatic hypermetropia which enabled him to get 
a great deal of spirituality into the faces he painted. That is one 
theory. The other is that he had strong religious feelings. At all 
events, old Isaac looks like one of his Christs, a fact which has 
been, perhaps, his greatest asset. People tend to treat him as if he 
were a rather saintly clergyman. Afterwards they find out that they 
were mistaken.' 

'You mean he's unscrupulous ?' 

'But no more than it pays to be. If you seek his monument, look 
about you ; and then ask yourself how a scrupulous man could have 
done it.' 

'Well, that's just business, isn't it?' Edward said. 

'Oh, quite.' 

They got out of the lift and walked towards the double doors into 
their own department, while Mr. Pardoner went on, 'There's 
another side to him: pride in his Sephardi ancestry. I sat next to 
him at the firm's annual dinner once, the only one of its functions I 
am unable to avoid, and he was quite forthcoming, although less so 
than his son. He talked about his origins in old Granada. Or it may 
have been old Cordoba. I know it was old and ended in A. He did 
not go so far as to claim that his people had been Saracen paladins, 
but one got that impression.' 

Edward had a feeling that Mr. Pardoner was talking just to keep 
him engaged right into his office, to carry him, without actually 
sending for him, past his own desk. There, he broke off^ abruptly 
and looked at Edward and said, 'Rather odd, young Mendoza's 
attitude, Tillotson. That almost importunate friendliness to a . . . 
forgive me . . . very junior and obscure member of his staff . . . ?' 

Edward did not see how Mr. Pardoner could have deduced 
Mendoza's attitude from the little he had told him. He said, 'Un- 
usual. But I don't think it was odd. It was, somehow, natural.' 

40 



Mr. Pardoner looked at him in silence, his face carefully expres- 
sionless. He said, 'Well, it's no business of mine I suppose,' and 
then, abruptly, having never so much as hinted that he had noticed 
his assistant's infatuation with the girl Doris, he smiled, almost 
shyly, not perfectly sure of himself, and said, 'How are you "making 
out" with that young woman out there?' 

Edward blushed hotly and said, 'What young woman ?' 

'My dear Tillotson, I am not blind nor in my dotage. The question 
was a benevolent one, I assure you. Gather your roses, Tillotson, 
gather them now. Good, wholesome, sweet-smelling roses never did 
anyone under thirty any harm. Until you are thirty, Tillotson, the 
body is an amusing toy. After that it should be either ignored or 
disciplined, or it will become a serious nuisance. Attempts to go on 
treating it as a toy — elderly men playing ball games and seeking 
sexual excitement — are the abomination of desolation. I preach 
indulgence to sensuality in youth, severity towards it thereafter. Men 
over forty turning their attention from their proper business, which 
is to learn how to die with credit, and stirring up the heyday in the 
blood which should be waiting upon reason, would be fewer and 
less offensive if more roses were gathered in youth. All right, go back 
to your work and forget these ramblings.' 

Edward was not surprised at the enigmatic quality in some of 
Mr. Pardoner's remarks because he put a false construction on them. 
He had, almost as a matter of principle, an attitude of resistance to 
their employers, and perhaps to all men in authority. He accepted 
their terms under protest, as it were. He once said to Edward, 'Men, 
Tillotson, not God, are to blame for everything.' 

It was a generalization called forth by some catastrophic news or 
other. He might smile with the consciousness that he was being 
rather tiresomely whimsical when he attributed persistent bad 
weather to the National government: all the same, when he pointed 
to 'the really rather hen-like countenance of the Prime Minister', 
beaming 'fatuously and despite his own bungling' from the picture 
page of a newspaper, and demanded, concerning the wetness of May 
or the coldness of June, 'What can you expect, Tillotson, with such 
a fellow as this at the head of the nation's business ?' Edward used 
to feel that, in his heart, he believed there must be a connection; 
perhaps Mr. Pardoner thought that God was punishing a wilfully 
fooUsh electorate? Unwilling to admit that by putting his political 
emotions before his duty as a Naval Officer, he had accepted self- 
immolation; unwilling to blame his own weakness, his own blunder- 

41 



ing into marriage with a silly, ill-tempered woman who was perhaps 
only silly and ill-tempered because he had made her so by his 
contempt, and into fatherhood, blunders which had, he claimed, 
put a stop to his musical work ; unwilling, too, to put the blame on 
to that unsatisfactorily faceless but implacable force called Them^ he 
had come to lay it on a sort of personal Big Brother composed of all 
governing, owning, directing men. 

So that, as Edward thought, Edward's hobnobbing with David 
Mendoza had offended him as a kind of treachery. Perhaps, in his first 
sullen answers to Mendoza's advances, Edward had even felt this 
himself, had remembered that Mr. Pardoner often referred to the 
young man ironically as the 'Heir Apparent'. Yet how much satis- 
faction liberals of Mr. Pardoner's kind most admirably deny them- 
selves ! Another man would have purged his spleen by calling Mendoza 
a Yid with the accent which implies abusive adjectives — dirty, 
little — and so had done with it. Or he would have abused Edward's 
new friend in terms other than racial without even that loss of face 
in his own eyes which falling into step with the German anti- 
Semites would have entailed. But that was something Edward did not 
know then ; he did not know that David Mendoza had provided all 
good men with a stout and unbreakable rod for his own slender back. 

In the canteen at lunch-time Edward said to Doris, *Look, I'm 
going to be late this evening. Can you wait for me ?' 

'Doin' a bit of overtime?' 

He explained and she said, 'Crikey! Him!' 

'He's not bad.' 

*I daresay, curly-locks!' 

'Don't call me that. Will you wait or go home alone .^' 

'You need looking after. Still, I'm not hanging about for anyone. 
See you tomorrow if you've got time.' 

Edward regretted the arrangement; he went after her and said, 
'I'll tell him I can't come.' 

'Don't be so soft. Might be worth a rise I shouldn't wonder.' 

It was only three in the afternoon when David Mendoza came 
down the long room to Mr. Pardoner's office. He paused for a 
moment at Edward's desk, his fingers touching it, and said, 'I'll 
just make our excuses to your chief,' and went into the office. Edward 
heard him say to Mr. Pardoner, 'Could I possibly borrow young 
Tillotson for a couple of hours V But he missed Mendoza's explana- 
tion as the door shut behind him and as his own attention was caught 
by Doris's antics. Mrs. Mills being in the far corner and with her 

42 



back turned, supervising the tea-making by the week's tea-orderlies, 
Doris got up from her place and walked, swaymg her hips and 
wriggling her shoulders, the length of the room, in an exaggerated 
parade of female display. There were titters and one isolated shriek 
of laughter. Mrs. Mills turned round and Doris, assuming a normal 
walk, made for the ladies' lavatory. Her performance amused Edward 
without meaning any more than the mockery of his own speech 
which she still, from time to time, could not resist indulging in by 
talking lah-di-dah. 

Mendoza came out of Mr. Pardoner's office and said, 'I've begged 
you off.' There were more titters as they went down the room to- 
gether. Edward glanced at his companion and saw his face flushed 
under the olive skin, and sullen. 'Awful little bitches!' Mendoza 
said; and, hastily, 'One can't blame them, of course. Dreadful back- 
ground. Most of them come from really shocking homes. A few of 
us, friends of mine, started a boys' club after we'd heard a talk by 
Basil Henriques — you know about his work?' Edward shook his 
head. *0h, well, you should, I'll tell you about it later. We started 
this club in Kentish Town, so I know what I'm talking about, these 
girls come from the same kind of homes. And we don't pay them 
enough.' 

'I see.' 

They got into the lift : Mendoza looked at Edward and said, 'You 
sound very non-committal, Mr. Tillotson. I say. Mister sounds 
absurd; and just Tillotson, forbiddingly schoolmasterly. Suppose 
I were to call you Edward ?' 

'It's my name.' 

'Edward, then. Would your feelings for what is fitting htfroisse' — 
there was a slight waspishness in his way of saying that — 'by calling 
me David?' 

'I don't think so.' 

'Good. Then we have our concordat. As to what we were saying, 
I suppose you think I should do something about it.' 

'About what?' 

'Paying those girls a decent wage.' 

'I imagine their union looks after that.' 

'Dear me ! You sound as stony-hearted as my father. They haven't a 
union, poor dears. And I haven't much influence on the Board, where 
I am a voice crying in the wilderness. Don't you ever talk to them ?' 

'The girls?' Edward could not prevent himself from blushing. He 
said, 'Some of them. Sometimes.' 

43 



*Are there any pretty ones?' 

There was, in Mendoza's manner of questioning him, a faint, 
a very faint echo of Mr. Tillotson's ill-restrained, offensive eagerness 
in hinting at his son's undesirable habits of a few years ago, which 
Edward did not at once recognize but which may have accounted for 
the distaste he felt. He said, 'One of them is. What's up with your 
Merc. ?' 

*Do you mind if I suggest that you call it a Mercedes, the second 
E being long and the third short? I don't,' he went on, laughing to 
take the sting out of this rebuke, 'insist on the Benz. I may be 
wrong, but it seems to me that there's a regrettably Great Portland 
Street flavour about the abbreviation, don't you think ?' 

'Anyway, what's wrong with it?' 

By then they were out in the car-park and standing by Mendoza's 
motor-car. 'It spits,' he said, *and coughs, and jerks, like an old man 
with bronchitis. It isn't the carburettors because we dismantled 
them and reassembled them at least twelve times. You drive.' 

He showed Edward the controls. Edward became absorbed, 
unaware of David Mendoza excepting as a source of information. 
He was excited and absorbed by the power under his hands. He was 
fascinated by the diflference between this and the power-thrill of 
riding Mr. Tuff's horse down at Goudhurst. This was a purer, colder 
pleasure. He turned the car north-west and driving very carefully 
because he was half afraid of it, worked through side-streets to 
Camden Town, and on to the Hampstead road and so out to the 
North Circular Road. There was room to go, there. The rise of power 
as he accelerated was not interrupted by any such hesitation as David 
had described : it presented itself to his mind as a smooth exponential 
curve. He was about to say so, with the speedometer registering 
eighty-five, when the engine coughed, jerking the whole car, and 
losing several hundred revolutions. 

Driving the big car at such a speed gave him authority, convincing 
even to himself: since he could do this, he must know things; he 
must be pretty nearly omniscient; at one hundred miles an hour, he 
would be. The experience was reminiscent of the way in which he 
had suddenly and dazzlingly understood, as he jumped Mr. Tuff's 
horse over his first five-bar gate, why mounted poHcemen knock 
pedestrian mobs about. He turned his head slightly towards David 
and said, 'It's ignition trouble,' and slowed to forty so that they need 
not shout at each other, while David said, 'We've tried that.' 

'I'm sure I'm right,' Edward said, and stopped the car and got 

44 



out and opened the bonnet and stared at the engine, peering about 
without much idea of what he was seeking, until at last he pointed 
to a rubber-covered cable and said, 'I'll bet the insulation's breaking 
down there,' thinking, after all, it could be true: the rubber touches 
the cylinder block and it looks a bit perished. He taped it, David 
watching his hands with something between admiration and tolerant 
amusement, and started the car again, and said, 'You drive now, 
David,' self-consciously aware of using the other's name for the first 
time. 

David's driving revealed a being Edward had not yet begun to 
know: it was seeing the texture of a fabric brought suddenly close 
under his eyes. He knew that he was not and never would be in 
David's 'class' as a driver. There was a degree of nervous con- 
nection between David and the machine which Edward would not 
accomplish in a lifetime. A long straight opened before them, and he 
felt the car thump him in the back as David engaged the super- 
charger. Edward watched the speedometer needle quiver over the 
100 and remain there for a few moments, then fall steadily until 
they were crawling at thirty. 'You were right, of course,' David said, 
and, 'I'm excessively grateful, Edward.' (His adjectives and adverbs 
had already struck Edward as oddly chosen; excessively was one of 
them.) 'Want to drive again?' 

'No, thanks, it will make me fed-up with the Sunbeam.' 

They were back at Brougham Square just before five o'clock. 
David drove into the car-park but did not at once get out of the car, 
and when Edward moved to do so put his hand on his arm for a 
moment and said, 'I owe you a terribly nice dinner for this. How 
about dining with me tonight ?' 

Edward wanted to get away ; the girls would be coming out at any 
moment and he would be able to drive Doris home after all. The 
five o'clock siren sounded as he was hesitating. He had his eyes on 
the door which the girls used and which opened into the yard. 

'You mean tonight?' he said, without taking his eyes off that 
door; it opened and two girls came out talking, followed after a 
moment by a stream of them, chattering and laughing noisily. 
Edward got out of the car, resenting his inability to leave David with 
a nod or a word, and afraid of missing Doris. 'There's a friend I 
promised to drive home,' he said. 

Suddenly icy, David said, 'Very well. Some other evening, then.' 

At the same moment Edward saw Doris, alone between two 
groups. She looked towards the cars, no doubt to see if the Sunbeam 

45 



was still there. Edward waved, rather hesitantly, as if he were 
ashamed to do it in front of David, and turned towards him, dis- 
tracted between the two of them, and said, hastily, 'AH right, yes, 
I'd like to.' 

David's face was white and his fine, hawk's-beak nose pinched. He 
said, 'Unless, of course, you'd prefer to be paid in cash,' the words 
coming off the surface of his lips, sharp and thin. Edward was not 
offended but, albeit strangely even to himself, concerned, as if David 
had given a cry not of venom but of pain. For a moment he hung 
there, between Doris, who had gone to the Sunbeam and got into 
the passenger seat, and David, who still sat at the wheel of his own 
car. This hesitation must have conciliated David, for he got out as 
Edward moved towards his car and caught him up and said, 'To- 
morrow evening would suit me if it would suit you.' 

'Yes, it would,' Edward said, with relief, the more readily in that 
it was Doris's night to stay at home and wash her hair. 

'Then I'll pick you up at five in your own office,' David said, and 
turned and walked away abruptly. 

As Edward got into the Sunbeam beside Doris she said, 'Sticks 
like a postage stamp, don't he ?' 

'Wanted to get me to eat with him tonight,' Edward said, and 
was aware that there was a kind of treachery, the treachery we. 
commit a dozen times a day, the treachery by which the self reminds 
us that it is a burden to be borne, in the contemptuous tone he used 
of his new friend, to please Doris. 'I told him I had to take you 
home.' 

'There's no have to about it,' she said, 'we ain't married.' 

'Don't be cross, Dorry. It was only a manner of speaking.' 



David Mendoza was punctual to his appointment. Mr. Pardoner 
was standing hatted and coated, ready to leave, at Edward's desk, 
giving his assistant the first words of praise he had yet vouchsafed in 
any matter of business ; it was for the way he had sorted out a muddle, 
a customer due for a canteen of cutlery had been sent a Britannia 
metal teapot intended for another who bore the same name. Mr. 
Pardoner's praise took a singular form: 'What we have to do for a 
living is contemptible, Tillotson; but vye take money for it.' 

46 



Edward saw David hesitate at the sight of Mr. Pardoner talking to 
him, then square his shoulders and come on again. He began to talk 
the moment he was within range of them, 'You know, it really is too 
absurd that our young friend here should have to spend his time 
messing about with gift coupons when he is clearly a born electrician ! 
Did he tell you how he spotted the fault in my car, just like that . . .* 
He snapped his fingers. Not until later, recollecting the scene, did 
Edward 'hear* that it was not the sort of thing a man says meaning 
just what he says and no more. At the time he took it at its face 
value and consequently could not account for the embarrassment 
with which Mr. Pardoner replied, *I don't know whether one can be 
born an electrician. It seems improbable. Yet I don't know why, the 
artist is "born" and the arts are no less artificial than the trades. Or 
are they ? It raises a whole — constellation of points. But I agree with 
the spirit of your observation, Mr. Mendoza. On the other hand, 
Tillotson is not alone, surely ? Aren't we all in the same case ? We all 
expend our spirit in a waste of shame. Good evening to you.' 

Tall, lean, with a forward stoop, he walked away from them down 
the long room, with an air of being hunched into his overcoat in 
anticipation of the cold air of the street, although the weather had 
turned quite mild. 

'I shouldn't have said that, it's made him think of his organ music,* 
David, looking after him, said, as if 'organ music' were a beloved 
wife recently dead. Edward, who had thought rather that Mr. Par- 
doner had in mind his own sad case, was taken aback. He said, 'Isn't 
it people's own fault if they don't do what they want to do ?' 

'I believe you're a tough, Edward,' David said, and, 'I didn't 
bring the car.' 

'Nor did I.' 

'We'll take a taxi.' 

He used the telephone on Edward's desk to tell the commissionaire 
to get them one and to let him know when it arrived, and putting 
down the receiver said, 'It smells in here. Cheap soap overlying 
sweat. Let's wait in my office.' 

They went down two floors. David's office had a Chinese carpet 
and a desk, chairs and some kind of sideboard all of which were 
— as he subsequently told Edward — 'Chinese' Chippendale. 
Apologetically, he said, 'I have to spend so many hours of myUfe 
here. I don't see why one shouldn't have things it's pleasant to 
look at, do you ? What will you have, sherry, whisky, gin ?' 

'Whatever you're having.' 

47 



'Oh, good. Let me see, dry vermouth and a dash of gin I think. 
You know, I meant what I said, it is absurd that you should be 
wasting your gifts here. I wonder what we can do about it? Well, 
here's to your still mysterious future.' 

He raised his glass; only slightly embarrassed, Edward raised his 
own. It did not occur to him to wonder what gifts he had and, if he 
had them, how David knew it. If David found him gifted, he was 
certainly not going to deny it. The telephone rang : their taxi was at 
the door. 

'Another ?' 

Prudently, Edward shook his head. 

'Right, when we get there, then,' David said, and, holding the 
door for Edward, 'Do you know the Flaubert, where I've booked a 
table?' 

Edward did not ; he had not even heard of it. On the rare occasions 
when, with his father and Maud, he had been to the 'West End', 
Maud always knew a frightfully good little place in Old Compton 
Street. Edward had been to several of these. Maud used to say, 'I 
mean, why spend money just on a name ? This place will be dis- 
covered soon and the prices will soar and the quality collapse. Let's 
enjoy it while it's still good.' 

The frightfully good Httle place always looked the same. ItaHan 
railway posters on the Lincrusta walls, slightly dirty table-cloths, 
wine in fiascos', and spaghetti served with the veal, as if it were a 
vegetable. At the time, of course, Edward accepted Maud's valua- 
tion : as for his father, he neither knew nor cared what he was eating 
provided there was a large plate full. He had only one gastronomic 
'line' and that had originally, perhaps only tentatively, been one of 
Maud's. But she, with her usual selflessness where Mr. Tillotson 
was concerned, dropped it at once when he adopted it, leaving it to 
him. 'It's a pity,' he would say, 'that none of these little places, 
excellent though they are, serve a proper pudding.' 

Maud: 'They do a very good zabaglione here.' 

Mr. Tillotson: 'Zabaglione is not pudding. I have nothing against 
it, it is very good in its place, but it is not pudding. Of course, the 
only people who understand pudding are the English. I grant you 
that the rest of our cuisine is shocking, but we do make a good jam- 
roll or rolypoly, or spotted dog, the good old Royal Navy plum-duff 
you know.' 

This would not have done had the Tillotsons moved in strictly 
bourgeois circles. It would have been taken at its face value for a 

48 



I 



manifestation of the Englishman abroad's bacon-and-eggs-for- 
breakfast spirit which it was smart to consider ridiculous. But as 
Mr. Tillotson's circle, in so far as he had one, was made of the very 
people who struck the attitude that gastronomic insularity was 
ridiculous, not realizing that they shared it with the majority of the 
increasingly self-conscious middle class, and yet were sufficiently 
ashamed of that class to be alert for the chic of any singularity, Mr. 
Tillotson's line on pudding seemed to them original and amusing. 
Edward was always sure that it must have been Maud's idea: his 
father would never have thought of it for himself; for in life as in his 
work Mr. Tillotson was a dialogue-polisher, not a maker. 

At all events, Edward had never heard of the Flaubert. He supposed 
that it would be luxurious, but in that case he must have expected a 
very large, lofty dining-room with lustre chandeliers and a string 
band. 

*I hope you'll like it,' David said. *The food's supposed to be the 
best in London. Of course, one can't compare . . . have you ever been 
to Paris?' 

'No. But my mother was French.' 

*I say. I'd no idea. So you speak the language?' 

'Yes. That is, I never do, actually. I read French books some- 
times.' 

It was too early to go straight to the Flaubert, and David said they 
would go to his club. It was in Pall Mall, which he pronounced Pell 
Mell. They went into what Edward thought of as a huge lounge, 
whose walls were covered with portraits which looked larger than 
life: the names engraved beneath them meant nothing to him. The 
elaborate ceiling mouldings were painted lightly in blue and gold and 
Edward sat in a deep leather arm-chair twice the size of any chair 
he had ever seen, with his head tilted back so that he could look at 
them. He was enchanted with them, and with the huge, warm room. 
There were fires at each end, in bright steel grates set in columned 
marbled chimney-pieces. The fires were of very neat logs and no- 
where was there anything broken or chipped, yet nothing looked new. 
An old waiter, impassive and so pale of face and white of hair that 
Edward wondered if he were kept in a dark cupboard when not in 
use, served him with an enormous dry martini. Two elderly men 
stood with their backs to the fire as if they were at home, hands 
locked behind them. Rhythmically, they rose on their toes and fell 
back on their heels. They took it in turns to talk but Edward could 
see that neither listened to the other. He heard the words 'non- 
49 



intervention . . . Barcelona . . . international brigade', and, louder, 
suddenly clear, *I warned the house after Guernica'. How did you 
warn a house, Edward wondered. Perhaps the word had been 
*warmed'? 'I warmed the house after Guernica' made some kind 
of sense. One of the two old men looked amusingly like the photo- 
graphs Edward had often seen of the Leader of the Opposition. He 
said so, laughing, to David, and David said, *As a matter of fact, it 
is.' Edward had had his second martini by then and said nothing but 
*Oh'. The house, then, was the House of Commons. He had evidently 
strayed into the cloud-cuckoo land of the daily newspaper's inter- 
minable serial story. And because, to him, and to the sort of people 
he knew, that is all it was, he was not excited, only wondering. The 
men whose faces stared out at you from the picture pages of the 
papers were not met with in three dimensions, even in processions 
or on platforms, they were as flat as stage scenery, though often as 
cleverly designed, so that they gave a pleasing illusion of thickness. 
That old gentleman rocking himself before the fire was as much the 
Leader of the Opposition as the Father Christmases in the stores in 
late December were Father Christmas: the representation, for his 
pleasure, of a mythical and immemorial personage, who, nevertheless, 
had some kind of real, albeit inconceivable, existence. 

The two politicians moved off towards the dining-room. The 
Father Christmas one stopped by David's chair and said, 'Good 
evening, David. How's your father?' David stood up and said, 
'Flourishing, sir, thank you.' 

'I'm glad to hear it.' 

Up to that point the exchange was so natural that Edward's con- 
ception of David's interlocutor as two-dimensional was disturbed. 
But then, and it was a kind of relief, the politician's face seemed 
suddenly much fuller; his waistcoat seemed to assume a convexity 
more dignified ; the rather narrow shoulders grew full and round and 
stooped a little. And, paradoxically, this assumption of flesh at once 
cancelled the brief illusion of a third dimension. The new man was 
standing well above their heads, now, on an imaginary platform ; he 
said, and the words seemed to print themselves in a cartoonist's 
balloon, 'I cannot say how grateful we are for the generosity of your 
father's new endowment of a research wing for the Dalston clinic' 
In some way — it was all of a piece with the magical quality of the 
room itself; of Edward's friendship, so sudden and gratifying, with 
David Mendoza; of this materialization before his very eyes of a 
character in the long tale told day by day in the Press — he managed 

50 



to make the words point to his own merit as well as the philan- 
thropist's. 

When Edward and David got up to go Edward laughed a little to 
himself, discovering that the club martinis had softened the bones of 
his legs. 

The restaurant was a complete surprise. It was on what he did not, 
of course, recognize as the Maxim'?, pattern, red-plush Edwardian 
with white and gold paint, small, warm, very intimate, and so 
swarming with waiters that there seemed to be several to every 
table. 

'By the way,' David said, when they were in a corner which 
commanded the whole room but gave them a little privacy, *there is 
no literary association in the name of this place. It's the proprietor's 
name. Here he comes, now.' 

Flaubert was a very fat, dough-faced Frenchman with the small, 
black, bright and expressionless eyes of a weasel. He said, 'Monsieur 
Mendoza! How nice to see you again! You have come at the right 
moment, too; the lobster is quite good tonight.' 

It was, as Edward discovered when he became familiar with the 
place later, Flaubert's practice to praise his goods in a series of 
understatements, or rather what would be taken for understatements. 
Of a great Lafitte (the restaurant's cellar was remarkable), he would 
say, 'Ce vin rC est pas mauvaiSy and then, thoughtfully translating, *It 
is not a bad wine.' Now, continuing on the subject of the lobster, he 
said, *Done thermidor it is eatable, I think. The mornay is even rather 
better, that is if you like mornay. It is not everybody who does. But 
my chef understands a mornay quite well. With a mornay he has . . .' 
He paused, seeking the phrase which would, one felt, tell the truth, 
the whole truth, but no more than the truth. *// a heaucoup de doigte,' 
he concluded, softly snapping plump fingers. 

Edward did not at once recognize the word. When he did it gave 
him as much pleasure as the ceiling mouldings in David's club. It 
was, he had thought, a word for books, not for use; it was almost a 
word to keep in a glass-fronted cabinet. 

*A little early for lobster,' David said. 

'For English lobster, yes. For it is not yet spring and this is a 
spring of the year beast. But Air France are good enough to bring me 
these lobsters from the Grotte de Sdragonato.' He shrugged and 
went on, 'You would perhaps do better with the sole maison. After 
air — he raised his hand to summon the passing maitre d' hotel — 'there 
is no better fish and no better way of cooking it.' 

51 



This did not sound like positive praise but like resignation: the 
facts, regrettable though they might be, were as he had stated them. 
Edward was as delighted with M. Flaubert as with the moulded 
ceiling and the word doigte. And also with this notion, altogether new 
to him, of talking about food before, or even perhaps instead of, 
eating it. At home they just ate it. And in Maud's frightfully good 
little places, a hurried food-loathing waiter assumed they would take 
the table d'hote and was impatient if they did not. 

'Tell me about your electrical work,' David said, having dealt 
with the wine-waiter. Edward was almost drunk by then, for the 
first time in his life, and although a little uneasy at a faint premoni- 
tion of nausea, he found talking too easy. Mechanically, his hand 
found a pencil and drew sine curves on the menu as he talked. But 
David watched his face. When Edward paused, David said, 'Of 
course, you ought to be at a University. I find all this completely 
incomprehensible and perfectly fascinating. It is like a gUmpseofa 
beauty one had not suspected and which remains mysterious. I was 
never any good at mathematics but, perhaps for that very reason, I 
always had a feeling that the explanation of everything is to be found 
in it.' 

Although this was to some extent Edward's own feeling, it embar- 
rassed him and was over his head and, in spite of being exalted by 
wine, David's enthusiasm chilled him. David must have seen the 
coldness in his face; he said, hurriedly, 'And you read nothing but 
science ?' 

Edward ate his last piece of sole and swallowed a glass of wine and 
said, T read everything I can lay hands on.' As he said it he became 
aware that whereas he could not stop talking to Doris about what he 
read until, as she said, it 'got on her nerves' and in any case she 
understood none of it, he had no inclination to talk about it to David, 
who would have understood it. 

'What sort of things ?' he said, but Edward did not have to answer. 
A tall, grey-haired man was standing beside their table, as im- 
probably 'distinguished'-looking as an advertisement for high-class 
tailoring. Despite the hair, the face was young, although the effect 
was impaired by a certain pouchiness about the eyes and a want of 
tension in the skin and flesh, a very slight pufliness, which was 
vaguely womanly. Edward must have stared, for the man deliberately 
turned his shoulder to him with a motion which was almost petulant, 
and said, 'David, I hope and trust that you are well. You look well, 
but with you sallow folk one can never be sure. I do hope you will 

52 



not mind me interrupting this agape, but one sees you so rarely of 
late that one has to seize the opportunity when it offers.' 

David, blushing for the way in which his friend had turned his 
back on Edward, but not offering to introduce him, seemed suddenly 
very uneasy. Edward did not attend to what he was saying nor to 
the other man's answers, being intent on watching the dexterity 
with which the waiter was serving their chicken milanaise, but 
suddenly coming to himself when David stood up and walked his 
friend by the arm across the restaurant to his own table, where 
Edward watched him being introduced to the other man's guest, or 
perhaps she was his hostess, a thin-lipped bony-faced woman in a 
black suit of great severity. Then Edward had to deal with a small 
crisis, for the wine-waiter, in David's absence, had poured a little 
red wine into his glass from a cradled bottle, and now stood expec- 
tant. He clearly wanted something but Edward did not know what, 
and when his uncertainty appeared in his face a look of contempt 
marred the amiability of the waiter's, who said, 'If monsieur would 
be good enough to taste the wine.' Edward had had too much to 
drink to be timid and he was annoyed by the sneer he heard in the 
waiter's voice. He said, Tf it will give you any pleasure, but I 
wouldn't know the difference.' 

At that the good nature returned to the waiter's face and as he 
leaned over Edward's shoulder to fill his glass he said, to Edward's 
astonishment, 'Nor would most of 'em in 'ere, if you ask me.' 

Edward had not recovered from his surprise when David returned, 
full of half-finished, nervous apologies, the last of which, while 
Edward began to eat his chicken with a determination to enjoy it 
in which his stomach was not co-operating, was, T didn't introduce 
you because, frankly, he's apt to make himself a nuisance to anyone 
as good-looking as you are. I expect you know what I mean ?' 

Edward did not; and he did not enjoy being told he was good- 
looking: he wanted people to notice it, no doubt, but not to remark 
on it. He said, 'I don't see how he could, we're not very likely to 
meet again.' 

During both question and answer David had watched Edward's 
face with such earnestness that his hands forgot their office and his 
knife and fork remained still and poised. 

'You'll meet again all right if Michael takes a fancy to you,' he 
said, with the same disconcerting, thin sharpness which Edward had 
noticed when he had had to refuse his invitation to dinner. 

'Michael what?' 

53 



'What does it matter? Oh, well, if you want to know. Major 
Michael Custer-Dwyer. He used to be in the Household Cavalry. 
Now he's head of Dwyer et Tisserant' — he gave it an exaggeratedly 
Gallic sound — 'whose customers include two Bourbon princesses. 
Are you any the wiser?' 

'Not very much.* 

'Such is notoriety! Beginning from scratch, in ten years he has 
raised his firm to the level of Chanel and Molyneux and so forth 
and so on. Or so he claims. Tisserant is the woman with him. She 
used to be his head fitter. He pinched her from Coco . . . Chanel, 
you know. He's just made her his partner. They've been to New York 
opening a branch on Fifth Avenue. I said it seemed pretty risky since 
they've still got the depression and God knows how many unemployed 
over there. He said it's always safe to cater for the rich, and that there 
are three things the Americans can do and all of them will suit him. 
He said they can take a turn for the better, in which case he'll be 
dressing the wives and mistresses of the newest rich; or for the 
worse, in which case he'll be dressing the commissars' wives ; or go 
to war, in which case there'll be the munitioneers' ladies. Michael's 
rather a bad lot.' 

'Because he's so cynical?' 

'Oh, Edward, you can't be that innocent! You can see what he is.' 

Edward could ; and he could not. He had seen that Major Custer- 
Dwyer was what in his house would have been called a pansy, but 
he did not know what it implied. He felt himself go very red in the 
face. The fact that C.S.B. was not a boarding-school might account 
for his innocence, or ignorance. The pinched sharpness of David's 
face made him very uneasy, and the closeness with which he watched 
him. David drank a glass of wine and said, 'Actually, I'm giving you 
the wrong impression. I think one should be absolutely tolerant, 
don't you ? It's nobody's business but our own how one feels in such 
matters. And I know of some touching and noble friendships between 
men of Michael's tastes. That isn't what I have against him. It's 
that he's so terribly treacherous. I mean, he'll be extremely nice to 
your face and then say horrible, wounding things behind your back.' 

'I see.' 

*I hope you do. Have you ever had anything to do with people 
like Michael ?' 

'No, of course not.' 

'Well, there's no need to be so emphatic!' David laughed, but it 
did not seem to Edward that he was really very amused. 'My question 

54 



was casual, not the beginning of a moral inquisition. I mean, whatever 
we may feel as twentieth-century Englishmen and all that, and 
although we may respect the law because it is the law, you cannot 
get away from the facts. I mean, Socrates and Plato and Leonardo 
and Proust and, for that matter, Shakespeare, all had the same tastes 
as Michael. I remember he gave me their whole roll of honour once. 
It was most impressive.' 

Edward was confused : David seemed to him to have changed his 
front somewhere. But this confusion was part of a more general 
one which was invading his mind and returning, with renewed 
force, to his stomach. The last glass of red wine had seriously upset 
him, and David broke off what he was saying to stare at his face and 
say, 'Edward, don't you feel well ?' 

*No, I don't. Where's the gents' ?' 

*God! I am sorry, it's my fault. Those fearsome club martinis. 
The door's over there on the left just beyond Michael's table. Shall 
I come with you ?' 

*No.' 

Edward crossed the room somehow although his own personal 
earthquake was rocking it. He was two people, one cut off from the 
other by some kind of muffling barrier; the inside one was wonder- 
ing whether the slow rocking of the floor which the outside one 
experienced, was producing the lurching gait he had observed among 
old, shabby men with tortured faces outside Overbury Park pubs on 
a Saturday night. Then, passing like the scenery outside the window 
of a slow train, there was Major Custer-Dwyer's face, looming, 
enormous, flabby, swaying like a balloon. Edward was not aware of 
the door. Then he had his forearm along the top of a porcelain 
urinal and his forehead against the blessed coolness of its back, and 
was vomiting. Presently, purged, cold, shaking slightly but well 
again, he was coming upright on a still, firm floor and looking 
towards the wash-basins for water to cleanse the foulness from his 
mouth. Custer-Dwyer was standing there, a full glass ready in his 
hand. He handed it to him, said 'Rotten luck. Better now?' smiled, 
squeezed Edward's shoulder and went out again into the restaurant. 
And, having drunk the water and checked his presentableness in the 
looking-glass, Edward followed him. Back at the table, David said, 
'You look better, thank God! I didn't come. I thought you'd rather 
be left to yourself. Were you sick?' 

'As a dog. I'm awfully sorry.' 

'My dear Edward! ... I saw Michael go in after you, did he . . . ?* 

55 



*Not after me. For his own reasons.' 

*Oh. Are you sure ?' 

'Of course I'm sure,' Edward said, angrily. 

'Well, don't bite my head off.' 

Edward did not want any more dinner. He had coffee while 
David ate a pear. Then Major Custer-Dwyer was at their table again, 
saying to Edward, 'Feeling better, old chap?' and to David, 'Why 
not join us for coffee ?' 

'Alas! Too late! We're just going.' 

'A pity.' He turned to Edward again. 'We shall meet again I'm 
sure, Mr ?' 

'Tillotson.' 

* * * 

David started coming into the gifts department on Monday 
afternoons, or calling Edward on the house-phone, and asking him 
to go out. Once, when Doris was tea-orderly and wheeled the cup- 
laden trolley to his table, and he spoke with impatience of David's 
rather too pressing friendliness, she laughed and said, 'Now you 
know what it's like to be pestered.' 

'If you mean I pester you . . . besides, it's ridiculous, it's not the 
same thing at all.' 

'Ain't it ? Looks like it to me. And I never said as you pester me ; 
I never said you don't, neither. I just said you know what it's like 
being pestered, see ? No cause to fly off like that, so keep your hair 
on.' 

David's invitations became a routine and so did Edward's answers. 
He could never accept unless the date suggested was a Tuesday. The 
explanation which he gave and which was accepted by both parties, 
who both knew it to be untrue, so that the whole thing had a flavour 
of international politics, was that he had to study in the evenings ; and 
that he allowed himself Tuesdays off. Tuesday was the light Doris 
washed her hair. That, at least, was the treaty convention between 
her and Edward, as study was the convention between him and 
David. On Wednesday mornings Edward would look anxiously at 
her hair and sometimes, but not always, he could see that it was less 
firmly 'set' than usual and had, indeed, been washed. Even so, he 
was not perfectly free from the jealousy which affected him like acid 
indigestion on the other occasions, when it was obvious that her hair 
had not been washed. For, having no sister, he did not know whether 
it really took a whole evening for a girl to wash her hair. It took him 
weeks to discover a formula sufficiently casual to satisfy his secretive- 

56 



ness and at the same time discover from Maud the answer to this 
harassing question. He did it while pretending to read the paper and 
calhng out from behind it (thus keeping his possibly tell-tale face 
hidden), 'These hair-wash advertisements! It cannot possibly take 
even a woman a whole evening at home to wash her hair!' 

'It's the drying,' Maud explained, 'my hair, for instance, takes 
hours to dry, it's so thick. My hairdresser says it's the thickest hair 
she's ever seen.' 

Was Doris's hair thick? Sometimes Edward thought it was, and 
was at peace on those Wednesdays when it had been washed the 
night before ; other times, he was sure that it was not, that it would 
dry in an hour, half an hour, or that being Doris she would not 
hesitate to go out with it still wet. 

He knew better than to question her. For if a question incon- 
venienced her, she lied, simply, without art, as if she wanted the 
lie to be a challenge to quarrel with her. Edward put up with it, as he 
was putting up with that other misery, the evenings when he was 
really driven to study because although he could not accept David's 
invitations in case Doris agreed to go for a drive or to the pictures, 
she, at the last moment, refused, either without explanation or else 
saying that she was going to see her married sister. For all Edward 
knew she really was going to see her married sister. But why not let 
him come? And who did she meet there? And if she did not go 
there, wasn't it likely that she joined, with some plain friend, the 
parade of girl couples walking briskly or loitering in the neighbour- 
hood of the Holloway Road? And he saw her going through the 
routine, the mental image coming between himself and his textbook, 
saw her or her friend look over her shoulder at the passing males in 
hunting pairs who called after them or whistled, or muttered one 
of the formulae which were the convention, until a coagulation 
occurred, two couples of opposite sex became a foursome, then, like 
a breeding amoeba, broke into two again, but this time couples of 
assorted sexes. That was what, in pain and anger, Edward visualized 
in long intervals of staring stillness between working examples from 
his book on calculus. He was putting up with these things because he 
could do no other; and also because he had something tremendous to 
look forward to: Doris had promised to come away with him for the 
four-day Easter holiday. 

When he had planned this he had it in mind to take her to his 
aunt's at Goudhurst. Because Doris was his own creation, as the 
people we love d' amour alw ays are and remain until they destroy our 

57 



ove by asserting their objective existence so strongly that we cannot 
any longer maintain the pretence that they are an aspect of ourselves, 
she was always delighted, in the imaginary exchanges he had with 
her in day-dreams, with the plans he made for them. And her quite 
different reaction when the time came to talk of these plans out loud, 
in her real presence, was always a shock of disappointment to him, 
and a cause of as much resentment as if she had formerly welcomed 
and ratified the plans not only in his imagination but in reality ; and 
then completely changed her mind. 

In the case of their Easter holiday he had actually written to his 
aunt and told her all about his legacy (rather belatedly), and about 
buying the Sunbeam and about having a friend whose name was 
Doris. And knowing that the house had two spare rooms, he had 
asked if he could bring Doris down for Easter. The two spare rooms 
were together in a small side wing of the house, and he knew that 
they would be as free of access to each other as if they were in one 
room. His aunt wrote back: 

'My dear Teddy, 

Your uncle and I are very glad you want to come for Easter. 
Let us hope that the weather is better than last year ! I am afraid 
you will not get any horse riding except the old pony. Mr. Tuff 
went out with the hunt in December and poor Caesar fell badly 
at Fagge's Dyke and broke two legs and had to be destroyed. It 
was Lady Mary who did it, they being so near the big house, with 
poor Captain Vincent's army revolver. There was trouble about that 
because Slope, the new policeman — Earnle has retired at last and 
has a cottage near Grebedene — is very much the new broom and 
wanted to know if the Vincents had a licence, and it seems they 
had not which Earnle would never have troubled about and as 
your uncle says, what a waste of tax payer's money. Mr. Tuff is 
saying he cannot afford a new hunter to replace poor Caesar. 
Fancy you having a young lady!!! It seems only yesterday you 
were no higher than the dining-room table!! And a motor too! I 
always thought of course that your poor grandfather would leave 
you his Uttle bit of money, it was only right. 

Any friend of yours will always be very welcome here. If you 
send me the name and address I will write a letter to her mother. 

Your uncle sends his love. 

Your affec. aunt 

Sarah Tillotson.' 

58 



The rather numerous exclamation marks in Sarah Tillotson's 
letters were not scattered at random. Edward knew that she made 
discriminating use of them: he knew that she found his having a 
'young lady' more worthy of amazement than the swift passage of 
time since he had been as high as the dining-room table. Why his 
having a motor should be less surprising, in fact no more surprising 
than last Easter's weather, Edward did not know. Perhaps she had 
read in the paper that young men did squander their money on cars. 
The word 'poor' as used by her had only a very vaguely sympathetic 
meaning, and signified little more than deceased and in addition, 
perhaps, his aunt's feeling that the dead were to be pitied,. which she 
might well feel if she had come to believe that they must all suffer the 
fate his uncle's religion consigned them to. That she used the word 
of a dead horse as well as a dead man did not weaken this argument : 
his aunt made no distinction between people and animals, they were 
both living beings and therefore to be respected and loved. 

It had not occurred to him that Doris would be a painful shock 
to his aunt and even, perhaps, to his uncle. On second thoughts, 
not to his uncle : Walter Tillotson did not notice differences between 
people, they were all sinners to him in the sense that people are 
constituents to politicians and patients to doctors: they were equals 
in sin before him as before his God. But Edward's aunt would have 
been horrified by Doris's commonness. For, though she loved all 
living creatures, she liked them in their place, and it would have 
seemed to her that Doris was as out of place in her front room, or as 
Edward's young lady, as a horse would have been. Edward's Aunt 
Sarah was not a snob, but nor was she a saint and she had a strong 
sense of class. Doris's vile Enghsh would have upset her and so 
would her table-manners if Doris had relaxed from the standard she 
had learnt from the pictures and *been herself. However, Mrs. 
Tillotson's good-nature was never put to the test of receiving Doris. 

Because, when Edward suggested the plan to Doris, she would 
not hear of it. She said, *Me waste me four days' 'oliday among all 
them cows and that ? Are you loony, mate ?' 

Her occasional use of the word mate^ with its implication of mere 
comradeship, always chilled him. And her rejection of a plan for 
their pleasure, in this case particularly, since it was to entail taking 
her to bed at last, was a disagreeable shock, breaking, as it did, the 
promises which the Doris who lived in his heart and mind had made 
with such exquisite sweetness. Sulkily, Edward asked her, 'Well, 
what do you want to do then ?' 

59 



'We're supposed to be going for a good time. What's the matter 
with Southend?' 

He agreed, of course. He wrote and booked a room at an hotel 
and in the following weeks forgot his disappointment about her 
attitude to the country in making her answer all his hopes of the 
way she would behave at Southend when, in five weeks' time, they at 
last shared a room instead of the seat of a car ; and four days instead 
of four hours. 

Edward's Tuesday outings with David were a change from the 
pictures, although they did once go to see a French film. Once they 
went for a long drive, dining at Folkestone and coming back by night 
with David driving as if they were on a race track, the supercharger 
whining, the car being sucked forward into the hole which its own 
lights pierced in the night under a lowering sky and a thin drizzle. 
They always had the car open. The second time they went out in it 
there was a suede canadienne lined with sheep-skin thrown on to the 
back seat, and a flying helmet. David said, casually, 'You'd better 
borrow those.' He himself wore a short cloth coat lined and collared 
with a silky, dark chocolate-coloured fur. When Edward admired it 
he said, 'Sable. I have a foolish mania for fur. It's absurd that fur 
coats have gone out for men. But one cannot wear them now without 
being taken for a theatrical magnate or something worse.' Later, 
when they were parting, Edward started to take oflF the canadienne, 
but David said, 'Oh, keep it for the time being, if you take it off 
now you'll catch your death, as they say.' It did not occur to Edward 
until long after he had come to regard it as his own, that it had been 
bought for him. 

Once they went to the Old Vic to see Hamlet. Coming out of the 
theatre after the play David said, 'Everything we've written since is 
either a gloss on that or mere entertainment.' And as Edward had 
nothing to say to that, he suddenly halted in their stumbling search 
for the car in the park and declaimed, to the astonishment of the old 
man who looked after the cars and who stood gaping and forgetting 
to wipe the snot from his nose with the back of his hand. ' "O 
Hamlet, Hamlet, how escape from the shadow of your spirit ! How 
cease to follow you in everything, even in the loathsome enjoyment 
of one's own self-depreciation!" ' 

'Goodness!' Edward said. He was embarrassed. 

'It's not mine. Turgenev. You must read him, Edward. But don't 
you feel how true that is ?' 

'No. Here's the car, look, over here.' 

60 



'No, of course you don't, it was a silly question. I hope you never 
will.' 

Another time there was a party at David's flat, which was the top 
floor of a house belonging to his father, in Avenue Road, leading into 
Regent's Park. Edward knew nobody. There was an impression of 
crowding and noise, confusing luxury, too much to drink. And after- 
wards a memory of David saying, as he paused to speak to him on 
his way across the room to try stopping a row between a man with a 
full black beard and a bespectacled girl with hair en brosse, 'Why do I 
give parties ? It's not as if I liked these people.' It was impossible that 
the remark pass unheard, and a small man with a colourless face and 
eyes like a spoonful of sea-water and hair like woodwool turned and 
said, 'But you like me, David.' 'No, I don't, I hate you and moreover 
I don't remember inviting you,' David said. Edward was shocked 
and embarrassed, but the pale guest only laughed and turning to him 
said, 'I suppose you paint or write or design clothes.' 

'No, I'm not anything much,' Edward said. The other man gave 
a snickering laugh and said, 'Admirable! I'm a solicitor myself, 
which could, I suppose, be described in the same terms. And it's a 
fact I wasn't invited, I came with Moses.' 

It seemed a curious claim. 'Moses?' 

'Not the prophet, the poet. Do you know him?' 

'No.' 

'He's amusing. He says that Hitler is the Whore of Babylon, 
which seems unlikely but you never know. He's the living proof of 
Hippolyte Taine's theory that there is a natural sympathy between 
the Hebrew and English tongues. He was brought up to be a rabbi, 
and writes English poetry like a seventeenth-century rhetorician.' 
Edward recalled this conversation when, years later, he came across 
this solicitor, who by then had risen by way of acting for men 
arrested by the police in public lavatories for acts of indecency, to 
the leadership of an important law reform movement, and into the 
House of Commons. 

David had told Edward not to come to the party in the Sunbeam 
as he could then drink without worrying, and that he, who was in- 
capable of being drunk, would drive him home. He had said he 
would like to do that, it would give him some fresh air after the party. 
But, very late, after everyone else had gone, he said, 'I'm too lazy 
to drive tonight. Why not stay? I have two beds in my room and I 
can lend you pyjamas. Pure silk!' he added, with a kind of forced 
gaiety overlying an earnestness, and even urgency, which disturbed 



Edward. *We can phone your people,' David said when Edward 
hesitated, but at that moment the door opened and a woman Edward 
had not seen before came in. She was about sixty, with grey hair cut 
short and set in soUd-seeming waves which looked incongruous 
above a lined and tragic face. David, whose own face had been flushed 
with excitement, turned white, so that his dark eyes seemed to 
ghtter unnaturally. He said, 'Mummy! How nice! You're too late 
for the party, which is perhaps as well. Darling, this is Edward 
Tillotson and I can't stay and talk to you because I am about to 
drive him home.' 

Edward was surprised when he said this and by what seemed to 
be her strange answer. For, 'I'm glad to hear it,' she said, with a 
grimness which matched her face but not her hair-do. And doubtless 
aware that this was hardly polite to their guest, she faced Edward, 
without a smile and with something like reproach in her face, and 
said, 'Glad, I mean, that David is driving you home, Mr. Tillot- 
son, and not leaving you to the dismal experience of a last bus or 
train.' 

'I'm afraid they will all have gone,' Edward mumbled. Her mere 
presence was a rebuke. 

'Of course.' And, to David, with an effort to seem cheerful, *I hope 
you enjoyed your party, dear ?' 

'Yes, thank you, Mummy,' he replied, exactly as a child says 
very-well-thank-you to an inquiry after its health. 

He and Edward were half-way home before David offered an 
explanation and then it was lame: 'My mother, bless her, has very 
strict ideas of what is due to a guest in her house. She hates 
sudden arrangements. She likes everything properly arranged in 
advance.' 

A little later he said, 'Anyway, it seemed to. me that you were not 
very enthusiastic about staying.' 

One morning, while Edward was receiving instructions for the 
day's work from Mr. Pardoner, he happened to say that something 
in one of the letters they were dealing with was 'absurd'. Mr. 
Pardoner looked at him very sharply and frowned. Edward noticed 
that his eyebrows had grown very bushy — Mr. Pardoner had once 
told him that his barber insisted on trimming them which made 
their growth all the more luxuriant. They made his frown por- 
tentous as he said, 'England, Tillotson, is two nations. On the one 
hand are the people who pronounce A-B-S-U-R-D abfurd. I am 
one of them and so, until a couple of weeks ago, were you. On the 

62 



other hand there are the people who say abzurdy such as David 
Mendoza. You seem to have gone over to the enemy, Tillotson.' 

Edward flushed and laughed and said he had not realized it, which 
was true. 

'Which is correct?' he asked. 

*I don't know and it isn't the point. Well, I think we've covered 
everything. Off with you.' 

During his morning's work, Edward kept repeating 'absurd, 
abzurd; absurd, abzurd'. He was never to be quite at ease with the 
word again. He said abzurd to some people and ab9urd to others, 
and no doubt a psychologist could make something of that. 

Doris was one of the people to whom he said ab9urd. They went 
out together that night and at first all went well because Edward 
had a case of forged gift coupons and the resultant police inquiry 
to talk about, and especially of his own part in it. Doris listened with 
attention and interest, but under cover of a kind of sulkiness as if 
she gave them in spite of herself. They were having a fish-tea at a 
Lyons and quite suddenly, interrupting Edward's account of what 
the inspector had said to Mr. Pardoner about altering the watermark 
of Mendoza's coupon paper, she pushed her plate away and said, *I 
don't see what cause you had to stick your nose in. Doing the 
police's job for them. They're bad enough without us helping them. 
But I s'pose your lordship thinks different.' 

'Now what's the matter?' Edward said. It was natural to her, as 
he had discovered, to his astonishment, to be hostile to the police, 
whom she regarded rather as the troops of an enemy nation in 
occupation of her native land ; but Edward did not believe she cared 
that much about it. And she revealed that his helping the police had 
been seized upon as a mere excuse to quarrel by going on, T'm fed 
up with this place. We always come here and we always do the same 
things. The trouble with you is, you're mean.' 

Edward did not know what had given rise to this outburst. He 
was astounded by it. He had settled into their routine and he had no 
doubt assumed that she had done likewise. It is possible that she had 
been talking with her friends, or that they had been jeering at her, 
and that she had concluded that she was not getting much, by cinema 
standards, out of her association with a member of the middle classes, 
'white collar' workers as the newspapers called them, by which they 
meant people who did no work with their hands and were conse- 
quently, as in ancient China, superior persons. 

*I don't know why you should say that,' Edward began, astounded 

63 



at her attack, and much hurt by the accusation of meanness. Doris 
interrupted him, 'It's all right for you with your little boy-friend. I 
bet he doesn't take you to Lyons.' 

'You mean you want to go to a posh place ?' 

'Why not.'' Aren't I good enough?' 

'Good God, it's not that! I just didn't think . . .' 

'No, you don't think, that's your trouble. It's always your con- 
venience and never mind me.' 

This was both grossly unfair and perfectly true: because, loving 
her, that is assimilating her to himself, he made no distinction between 
her convenience and his own. 'I'll take you where he took me the 
other night,' he said. 

'Where's that?' 

'The smartest restaurant in town. It's called the Flaubert J* 

'Never 'card of it.' 

'Nor had I. But he knows the best places, you can be sure of that.' 

'I'm not so sure he does. Don't forget he's an ikeymo . . .' (Edward 
had discovered that ' Yid' is not a working-class usage ; ikeymo was, 
perhaps, a very local term. He never heard anyone but Doris make 
use of it.) '. . . They have their own places.' 

'Not the top ones, apparently. This place wasn't what I had 
expected but . . . well, I can't exactly explain but you could tell at 
once that it was . . . well, what Dav . . . what Mendoza said it was.' 

Although he was not conscious of doing so at the time, ever since 
Edward had made the association between his grandfather's name 
and the race values which the Nazis were forcing upon the world, he 
had gradually assumed a particular detachment of manner, an 
unusual degree of ignorance, where Jews were concerned. 

'Will you really take me there ?' Doris said. 

'Of course.' 

'What'llitcost,Ted?' 

'I don't know. Two or three quid I daresay.' 

'Crikey!' 

Her eyes shone like stars on a frosty night and her cheeks were 
flushed: Edward was to see girls deeply moved by love, by great 
music, by a sublime panorama from a high pass ; Doris was like that 
then; the spending of three pounds on one meal had to do duty for 
those other wonders. 

As he did not know whether it would be necessary to reserve a 
table — he had noticed reservation chits on some tables at the Flaubert 
— Edward had to catch David during the morning of the next day, 

64 



and ask him. When he knew what Edward wanted, he turned full 
on him with a quick, suspicious movement, 'The Flaubert} What 
on earth for ? Who with ?' 

'With Doris.' 

That seemed to reheve what had all the appearance of acute 
anxiety. David looked at him for a moment in silence and then said, 
'Oh. Yes, I think that's rather a good idea, such a treat for her. Look, 
I'll ask my secretery to ring old Flaubert for you.' 

David's attitude to Doris was one of tolerance: Edward never 
knew what he felt, but he never showed either contempt or jealousy, 
and was on the whole rather paternal about Edward's infatuation, 
as he called it. 'No, I don't want to meet her,' he said once, 'it 
wouldn't do; I shouldn't know what to say to her. I daresay she's 
all you tell me. You have your fun and let's leave it at that.' Edward 
objected that it was not a question of having fun, but David would 
not let him explain: *I know, Edward, I know! You don't have to 
tell me.* 'You've never mentioned a girl,' Edward said. 'No, I 
haven't, have I ? How right you are.' Very suddenly his manner had 
changed, his face had looked exactly like his mother's as Edward had 
seen it on the night of the party. 

* * * 

Doris's best dress was a plain black woollen garment set off by a 
string of Woolworth's pearls. Edward was very surprised and relieved 
at her taste; he knew nothing about women's clothes but that was 
not what he had expected ; and although he could not have explained 
why, he was reassured. When he praised her appearance she was 
rather curt and it was obvious that she did not want to talk about her 
dress. Had Edward understood about women's clothes and really 
been able to judge the dress, her reserve about it, coupled with the 
fact that he would have realized that it cost at least half a year of 
Doris's wages, would have plunged him into a new nightmare of 
jealous speculation. The dress would have implied a whole new and 
secret life which Doris must be living and of which he knew nothing 
and had not suspected ; he would have deduced a rich lover, perhaps 
some greasy, middle-aged commercial traveller who could get good 
clothes wholesale. He would have given this disgusting creature a 
face, manners, a background of wife and family and house and car. 
He would have become obsessed with hatred of him. 

And he would not have existed, it would all have been unneces- 
sary. Doris was reserved about the dress because she was ashamed of 
its provenance ; and it was in 'good taste' instead of her own livelier 

6s 



taste because of that same provenance. The poor of many countries 
in the nineteenth century revolted against their lot ; those of England 
submissively wore the cast-off clothing of their betters; the practice 
lingered, and perhaps still lingers. For many years Doris's mother 
had worked as a 'daily woman' for the wife of a prosperous stock- 
broker, enabling her employer to keep house servants by taking 'the 
rough' off their hands. This woman was generous with clothes which 
she or her family were tired of or had grown out of, and about a 
quarter of the garments worn by Doris's family came from that 
source. As a rule they were things which had to be cut-down, let- 
out, made-over ; but from time to time there was a dress which Doris 
could wear almost without alteration. Such dresses were not what 
she would have bought for herself; it was no doubt her mother who 
made her see that she could not have afforded anything nearly so 
good; and some of them, the black she wore to the Flaubert for 
example, suited her, at least in eyes more sophisticated than her own. 

All Edward knew was that she looked very nice, very 'quiet', that 
the dress enhanced her beauty and made her look very classy. 

The Flaubert'^ menu was one of those enormous cards with the 
names of dishes written in bold cursive script and violet ink. As soon 
as they were at their table and the maitre d'hotel had given them 
menus, Doris put hers down after a glance and, with a wonderful 
air of sUght boredom, said, 'Choose for me.' Her conduct was, in- 
deed, subdued; or, rather, watchful and careful. Edward was 
reminded of a kitten emerging for the first time from the bottom of 
the kitchen cupboard where it has been born and reared — the eyes 
dark and brilliant with curiosity, the whole body tense with caution, 
the nerves so stretched that the least abrupt movement or loud sound 
produces a halt, a shrinking back, a fresh and thorough survey of the 
possibly dangerous environment. He had never seen this careful 
Doris before, thinking twice before she spoke and then, after all, 
saying nothing. He was a little depressed by her. 

He was not much more at ease with the huge menu than she was ; 
he could read it but it did not mean anything. Seeing this, the 
maitre d'hotel was helpful, and stooping over him to touch the 
suggested items with his pencil, no doubt so that he could see the 
prices of the dishes, said, 'If I may suggest, monsieur, the bisque, a 
coquille St. Jacques, and the tournedos maison with a green salad.' 

*I think that would be very nice,' Edward said. 

Doris became a wonderful example of the deceptiveness of 
appearances: that detachment from what was going on which was 

66 



due to a determination to make no mistakes by adopting a quietist 
policy, looked exactly, to Edward at least, like the indifference of 
custom. When he gave his approval of the waiter's suggestion an 
interrogative note, for her benefit, she merely nodded. 

As soon as they were alone again, M. Flaubert himself approached, 
followed by a wine-waiter carrying an ice-bucket with a bottle in it. 
Phlegmatic, expressionless, he offered Edward a flabby hand to shake 
and said, *We are glad to see you, monsieur.* To Doris he bowed. 
She smiled, and Edward was fascinated to see that the fierceness of 
her smile, that smile of the slums which is a mockery, which reverts 
to the snarl of its origins, had all gone; the smile was demure, sweet, 
well-bred, a smile, like her dress, suitable to the place. Did she knew 
how to do it by some social instinct, or had she copied it on the spot 
from a girl at the next table? He did not know. M. Flaubert said, 'I 
have a message from Mr. Mendoza, who begs that you will drink a 
glass of champagne with him.' And he motioned the wine-waiter to 
come forward with his bottle. It made Edward very angry. There 
was something like a fawning persecution in David's conduct which 
he resented without understanding. 

'We don't want champagne . . .' he began, but Doris, speaking for 
the first time since delegating the choice of their dinner to him, said 
T do.' 

Flaubert turned to her and, with a little irony in voice and eyes, 
said, Tt is Louis Roederer of my own reserve, mademoiselle. Not, 
perhaps, as dry as most English people like it, which mademoiselle 
will allow me to say is too dry, but still, not sweet and of a good year. 
Monsieur and mademoiselle will find it quite drinkable.' 

The dislike of the human race which he contrived to express by 
the use of the third person was probably amusing to his real clients, 
but to Edward, who was too young for such bitter flavours, it was 
distressing. He said, 'Well, all right,' to get rid of him, and when he 
had moved to another table said, T'U have something to say to David 
about this.' 

T think it was ever so nice of him.' 

'Butting in. Why can't he leave me alone? I'd've bought you 
champagne if you'd wanted it.' 

That prompted her to taste her wine; she made a face and, revert- 
ing momentarily to her own style, said, 'Crikey. Cat's piddle and soda 
water.' 

All the same, she drank her share of the bottle that night and from 
lovely became radiant as the wine eased her constraint and made her 

67 



swift adoption of new movements, new words, new manners deft 
and easy instead of awkward and laborious. 

They were eating their tournedos. Edward was just beginning to 
emerge from his own nervousness and to enjoy the evening. It did 
not matter that they had Uttle to say to each other now that what they 
said they meant, and were no longer talking to make a social noise ; 
they were rude about the looks of their neighbours, for, conscious of 
their youth and beauty, they could be arrogant on that level. But 
Edward hardly did more than glance away from her, his eyes were 
always on her face, it was a treasure he had there and he would not 
be distracted from his enjoyment of it. So that he started, as if 
roused from sleep, when a voice said, 'So you cut your acquaintance 
when dining in town, Mr. Tillotson ?' 

It was Major Custer-Dwyer, accompanied again by the Tisserant 
woman, his partner. Edward remembered his manners and stood up. 
Custer-Dwyer said, Tlease introduce us to your friend,' without 
taking his eyes off Edward and with barely a glance at Doris. Edward 
named her to both of them. Mme Tisserant smiled at Doris and 
Edward was surprised to see so eager, so almost pathetically friendly, 
a smile on the woman's hard face. Custer-Dwyer said, *Come to 
think of it you two haven't met either. David Mendoza was keeping 
you so much to himself the other evening. Zenobie, this is Mr. 
Edward Tillotson, Madame Tisserant.' Edward said, 'Pleased to 
meet you.' Custer-Dwyer's quizzical smile was indulgently brief. 
Mme Tisserant touched the fingers of Edward's offered hand, while 
still looking at Doris. 

'We're over there,' Custer-Dwyer said, nodding at a table across 
the room, 'come and join us for coffee when you're ready.' Before 
Edward could refuse, Doris said, *Ta, we will. More the merrier is 
my motto.' Mme Tisserant laughed with real pleasure at this 
witticism, and the laugh seemed to give Doris a licence to be even 
more nearly herself. She winked at the major, who, if taken aback, 
did not show it, but winked back. In thickly accented English, Mme 
Tisserant said, 'It will be quite a little party, eh?' 

When they had gone to their own table Doris said, 'She's a 
foreigner, then ?' 
'French.' 
'Who are they ?' 
Edward told her what he knew. 

'Zenobie, he called her. What a name to go to bed with.' 
Although Edward's instinct would have been to refuse the major's 

68 



invitation, he saw that by knowing these people he had improved the 
evening for Doris, that she was enjoying the idea of having coffee 
with them. (He doubted whether she had ever drunk black coffee 
before in her life or seen a demi-tasse. When it came to it, it would 
have been impossible to tell that she had not done so after every 
meal of her adult hfe.) He was pleased with this success and it was 
that which led him on to encourage her to enjoy Mme Tisserant's 
and the major's company, until suddenly he saw what he was doing. 
But that was half an hour later; and too late. To Doris's rude com- 
ment on Mme Tisserant's name, he said, Tt would be Zenobia in 
English. She was an Eastern queen who led her own armies into 
battle.' 

'Must be catching. This one looks as if she'd do the same for two 
pins.' 

It was true : Mme Tisserant had the look of a bad-tempered senior 
staff officer. 'She's even got a moustache,' Doris said, and twisted 
an imaginary one into points a foot long. This was cruel: Zenobie 
Tisserant's moustache was no more than a faint, dark down . . . 

When Edward was asked if they would take coffee he said that 
they were having it 'over there'. He could see that the others had 
reached the cheese course. Custer-Dwyer was evidently keeping an 
eye on them for he saw him wave and make hospitable gestures 
signifying that they were to come over at once. He asked for his bill 
and paid it; it was exactly what he had calculated that it would be, 
which was a relief, although he had brought plenty of money with 
him. They had the length of the room to go; both Major Custer- 
Dwyer and Mme Tisserant kept smiling eyes on them all the way. 
Custer-Dwyer rose and held a chair for Doris to sit beside Mme 
Tisserant. Edward took the fourth chair. M. Flaubert was passing 
and the major said, 'Flaubert, ask your sommelier to bring that vieille 
cure of yours' and, to Edward, 'You'll take a brandy?' 

'Not for me.' 

'Miss Doris will perhaps like a liqueur,' Mme Tisserant said. 

'Yes, but you choose for me,' Doris said; it was said very girlishly. 
Edward suddenly remembered looking up from his desk in I\Ien- 
doza's at a shrill outburst of obscene abuse from the far side of the 
sorting table, to see his sweetheart grab her neighbour by the hair and 
hit her twice in the face with her clenched fist. 

'Share the joke,' Custer-Dwyer said, in a low and intimate voice. 
Edward flushed and said, 'I didn't know there was one.' 

Doris was whispering to Mme Tisserant, who nodded and 

69 



pointed across the room. Doris rose and walked away. Mme 
Tisserant, continuing her poHcy of ignoring Edward's existence, 
turned to Major Custer-Dwyer and, confident that Edward would 
not understand a word, they talked in French, the major, however, 
with a kind of reluctance, and constantly throwing their guest 
apologetic glances. 

Mme Tisserant, with her eyes on the point where Doris had 
disappeared into the ladies' room, asked Major Custer-Dwyer, 
'What dost thou think?' to which the major repUed, with another 
question, 'Of the little one ?' and a shrug. He then said that the girl 
was a nice shape, he granted her, but of a commonness ! When he was 
talking French, he seemed to Edward, who was following this con- 
versation with downcast eyes, to be French. But as Edward had not 
seen a French person, to his knowledge, since his mother ran away 
when he was six, he was not a very good judge. To Major Custer- 
Dw^er's faint praise and louder blame, his companion replied, with 
sharp indignation, that 'she was sensational!' Custer-Dwyer dryly 
suggested that they should avoid exaggeration and hoped that 
Zenobie would do him the pleasure to leave the girl alone, explaining 
that 'he wanted no stories with the boy, here'. Edward was surprised 
at this, and did not know what the major meant. Mme Tisserant 
said, *How, leave her alone ?' angrily, and pointed out that 'the little 
Morriere was leaving them and that not personal, but strictly busi- 
ness, considerations explained her zeal. She went on to point out 
that 'this Doris' would be a thousand times better and that he had 
only to look at her walk. Edward reflected that it was true that Doris 
walked with striking grace. Custer-Dwyer, evidently anxious to put 
an end to the discourtesy of speaking a language unknown to the 
third person present, said that this had not occurred to him and that 
perhaps she, Zenobie, was right. Mme Tisserant concluded this 
brisk exchange by saying, 'Sensationely je te dis! On Vembauche?' 
Edward was not familiar with this last word, but guessed that Mme 
Tisserant was seeking Major Custer-Dwyer's approval for her plan 
of offering Doris a job. The major's shrug seemed to give grudging 
consent. 

It is perhaps curious that although Edward did not much disUke 
Custer-Dwyer and was not worried by what David had said about 
him, since it did not concern him; and although he did not care that 
Mme Tisserant clearly disliked him, neither of these people seemed 
to him trustworthy. He had followed the conversation, although 
there were some words — slang perhaps — or ways of using them 

70 



which were strange to him. But, despite the major's apologetic 
glances he resented being excluded from the talk and he was uneasy 
at the tone of their references to Doris and perhaps a little frightened 
at the suggestion that some plan they had for employing her might 
involve trouble with him. A few minutes were still to pass before he 
realized that if he valued his own happiness he should have tried to 
get Doris away at once, before anything could be said to her; in that 
few minutes his wish to thrust himself back into the front rank, to 
put on a show and be applauded, led him to help Mme Tisserant 
to defeat him. (Not that they, of course, saw it in that light.) So 
that when Custer-Dwyer, reverting to English, said sulkily to Mme 
Tisserant, 'You can try if you like,' Edward looked up, as if it were 
the reversion to English which was letting him in, and said, with a 
fatuousness not quite deliberate, 'Nothing venture, nothing get.' 

Custer-Dwyer and Mme Tisserant both looked at him doubt- 
fully, for what he had said might derive solely from that one English 
phrase of their exchange, or from his having understood the whole 
of it. Custer-Dwyer said, Tt's shockingly rude of us to talk French. 
But poor Zenobie finds it a terrible strain to speak English all the 
time. Do please forgive us.' 

Doris was making her way back between the tables and, like Mme 
Tisserant, Edward was watching her come. Without taking his eyes 
off her he said, in French, and noticing even as he spoke how bad his 
accent had become, for he had not talked his mother's language for 
years, in fact not since he had lisped and prattled it, 'Of course, I 
understand. And you are so right about Doris, madame, she is 
sensational and she walks with such grace.' 

Mme Tisserant went white with anger; and Custer-Dwyer, after 
blushing all over his face, laughed, an oddly shrill laugh with little 
merriment in it, and ending with a sort of gurgle and, 'Oh, God, 
that's terribly funny.' But not a flicker of amusement relaxed the 
displeasure of the Frenchwoman's face. Doris, sitting down in her 
place again, said, 'What's so funny?' 

'The joke's on us, Miss Doris,' the major said. Doris smiled 
sweetly on them all. As if determined to destroy himself, but ani- 
mated by the need to keep the initiative with Doris, to make her 
seem to owe any advantage to him and only to him, Edward said, 
trying to make it sound as if the suggestion had come from him, 
'Mme Tisserant wants to offer you a job, Doris.' 

'A job? Me?' 

Tisserant glared at him like an oflicer-of-the-day who has spotted 



a private with his hair over his ears. But to Doris she said, 'You 
perhaps know that we are couturiers, my dear, dressmakers. We need 
a new mannequin, a model girl, you understand, to show off the 
models. By the way, I like the little Paquin thing you are wearing, 
but you are too young for all black. It is smart, yes, I do not say the 
contrary, but a young girl, so very young, should be perhaps not so 
much smart as sweet. But this job — it is for our London shop, later 
for Paris, even, possibly. New York. You have the figure, the 
movement, the face.' 

Edward saw Doris's mouth open for one of her Crikeys or 
Blimeys; but then it closed into a firm line, her eyes became as 
watchful as the Frenchwoman's, and with a refinement which 
Edward found insufferable, she said, *Well, I don't know I'm sure.' 

'Hadn't you better ask what pay you'll get?' Edward said, his 
determination to keep a sort of proprietorial status leading him ever 
nearer to his own defeat. Custer-Dwyer said, *Miss Doris would 
begin at three pounds ten a week.' 

It was more than twice her pay at Mendoza's. And suddenly 
Edward realized how he was casting himself away, that he should 
have been doing everything in his power to prevent this happening 
instead of helping it on just in order to be playing a leading role. He 
knew, whatever he might pretend in his day-dreams, that he had no 
hold on Doris. Earning more than he did, working in the West End 
of London, in Paris perhaps, even, remote as the moon to him, in 
New York, she would be altogether out of his reach, she would be 
surrounded by brilliant people, society women, rich men, debutantes 
and their escorts. He was suddenly and violently jealous of all these 
as yet imaginary people. It was quite certain that she would drop 
him, forget him, learn a language and manners he did not know and 
even more alien than the one, already sufficiently strange to him, of 
her birth. And he had himself thrust her half-way into this new 
world to which he had no way in. 

He heard the rest of their conversation but only as if it were at a 
neighbouring table; he was eavesdropping, not partaking, and that 
absent-mindedly, for his own mind was occupied with examining 
and rejecting measures for recovering the position. For the first 
time since he had set eyes on her it came into his mind that he might 
try to persuade Doris to marry him. From all he had heard, that was 
what girls wanted. The notion frightened him, but he faced it, and 
accepted it. The obstacles should not stop him. His mind, as if for 
refuge, began to work at practical details: Would there be room for 

72 



them at home? He heard Mme Tisserant's voice saying, Tour 
pounds a week and a year's contract.' And Custer-Dwyer's protest, 
Wow, mais ecoute, Zen!' 

'Four quid,' Doris said, and, 'Tell us more about the work, 
like.' 

Edward heard a word here and there as his mind busied itself 
fitting Doris and himself as man and wife into the Overbury Park 
household. He was thinking that the top floor could be partitioned 
oflP by a new door, making it into a separate flat. Mme Tisserant's 
voice, deep and powerful, was saying, *. . . so really it is just walking 
about in very pretty clothes, my dear, and seeing everybody who is 
anybody, and . . .' He lost the rest in the physical difficulties of 
fitting an extra lavatory into his father's house and in wondering 
about the cost, and whether he could, after all, get that hundred 
pounds back from his father. He even missed the conclusion and 
when he returned to present consciousness Custer-Dwyer was pay- 
ing his bill and saying, 'Why don't you people come back to my flat 
for coffee and a drink?' It was Edward he smiled at, who said, T 
think I ought to get Doris home.' 

To his surprise Doris did not object. The last thing Mme 
Tisserant said, holding Doris greedily with her eyes, was, 'Don't 
lose the card, my dear. And remember, Monday at noon.' 

'Forget? Likely, ain't it? Ta-ta, and thanks ever so.' 

Out in the street and on their way to the St. James's Square car- 
park, Doris took Edward's arm and said, 'Gord, I'm all excited, 
What luck, eh?' 

'You stick to me and there's no knowing how far you'll go. 
Together, we're going places.' 

'Four quid a week! My dad on'y gets fifty bob when he's in 
work, which ain't often.' 

'My turn next,' Edward said, deliberately wistful, to attract her 
sympathetic attention and suggest that each should rejoice in the 
other's strokes of luck and sympathize when such luck was not 
forthcoming. Doris said, 'An' nothing to do for it but wear clo'es. 
Dunno as I'd want to go to Paris, though. New York'd be some- 
thing, though. Might get to 'Ollywood, I shouldn't wonder.' 

They got into the car. Edward kissed her and she pushed him 
away. As he drove he let her talk and said nothing until, five minutes 
from the end of her street, she said, 'Cheerful, a'ncher?' 

Like a fool he said he was afraid of losing her. 

'Don' be silly! Much loss I'd be, I don' think!' 

73 



'This won't make any difference to Southend ?' he implored. 
'W'y should it? 'Course not. 'Ere, give us a kiss. No, that's 
enough, I'm that tired. 'Night. An' ta, ducks, it was lovely.' 



It must have been during the two harassing weeks before that 
Easter holiday, which did not turn out as Edward expected it to but 
sharply altered his course, that Mr. Pardoner, in concluding an 
argument, said, 'Life, Tillotson, is simply a series of accidents we 
have to adapt ourselves to.' It is said that there were times in the 
past when a man could have a plan for his life and carry it out. But 
this was not possible in Edward Tillotson's time, perhaps because 
the framework of all private lives is public life and the public life 
which contained his private life had been a long-dragged-out civil 
war. As Mr. Pardoner said to him, 'We have lived and we still live, 
Tillotson, as if the house were for ever catching fire in a new place 
whenever we sit down to our dinner.' Once, when Edward had said 
that the war in Spain (Spain simply happened to be where it was at 
its most acute at that moment), 'did not interest him', Mr. Pardoner 
said, 'But it will, Tillotson, it will. The streets of Madrid and Barce- 
lona lead into the streets of London, though you can't see it on the 
map. Oh, it's confusing, I grant you, but only because the opposing 
sides aren't distributed geographically but economically and socially 
and temperamentally.' 

'I don't follow you.' 

'Do not be deceived by the differences in the shapes of Messrs. 
Hitler's and Chamberlain's moustaches.' 

'Are you a Communist, then ?' 

'Are you a poll-parrot, Tillotson?' 

The fact was, Edward could take no interest in anything but a 
single question: whether he would succeed in getting Doris, who 
was no longer working at Mendoza's and was so taken up with being 
prepared for her new job by Zenobie Tisserant that she had become 
inaccessible, to come to the party which his father had decided to 
give following a great stroke of fortune. His peace of mind had been 
wholly shattered by this change. Doris still refused to let him see her 
at home in her parents' lodgings, and to see her at all he had to leave 
his own work sharp at five, drive dangerously fast to Jermyn Street, 

74 



and hope to catch her as she came out of Dwyer et Tisserant's 
between half past five and six. Sometimes he missed her, she had 
already gone when he arrived fretting at the maddening delays im- 
posed by rush-hour traffic. Or, although he was there in time, she 
could not come with him, had only time for a quick drink before 
some appointment only vaguely defined or because she had to go to 
Zenobie Tisserant's apartment on what sounded to Edward like the 
most improbable errands, a fitting, or lessons in deportment or 
elocution, as if they were not in the 1930s but in the 1830s. 

Yet it was not these physical difficulties which most depressed and 
harrowed him, distracting his mind from everything but how to get 
hold of her, how to keep up with her. His real anguish rose from the 
nature of the change taking place in her and its extraordinary swift- 
ness. That was as surprising as the change which takes place when a 
gardener moves a dormant plant into his hothouse. He still did not 
think Doris was clever: she did not learn with her mind, but as the 
lungs learn to breathe at birth, the legs to walk in infancy. Every 
time he saw her she was different, she was more than she had been, 
and also, in some ways, less; for example, less honest. Her speech 
corrected itself daily, hourly; her accent, her manners, her ways of 
moving, and at least superficially the furniture of her mind, were all 
new and all of superior quality. Should he have rejoiced ? It would 
have seemed to him that whoever thought so had never been in love. 
Every change in her made it more difficult to force the objective 
Doris into coincidence with his Doris, the girl he had made and who 
obsessed him. She was less and less amenable to his amorous fancy, 
less and less subject to control by selfish adoration. In the simplicity 
of her crude original character there had been advantage for him if 
only because it imposed on her a kind of rude candour which was 
relatively easy to deal with. But now she was learning the little tricks 
of evasion in thought and deed and word, learning to value the 
luxury of mental privacy which is achieved by concealing the raw 
feelings under manners. He was no longer sure when she was 
pleased with him, and when displeased, nor even if she was ever 
more than indifferently friendly. She was becoming the sort of girl 
whom he would not have known how to approach; becoming what, 
had she always been so, would have put her out of his reach in the 
first place. 

One evening she came hurrying out of the double plate-glass 
doors of Dwyer et Tisserant's (with a smile for the commissionaire 
which was already that of an old hand), wearing a new and very 

75 



smart suit. She got straight into the car and said, 'Take me for a 
drive.' 

'Where?' 

'I don't care.' 

Edward thought she looked pale and unsure of herself but he said 
nothing, and as it was a fine evening decided to take her to Rich- 
mond. He had not much money in his pocket but they could have 
sandwiches and beer at a riverside pub. She remained silent and he 
had too much to do attending to the traflic to question her. Nor was 
he any longer at all sure of himself with her: he was beginning to 
be placatory. He knew from what he had read that he could do 
nothing worse than show timidity: he was assured by every master 
of the art of love that timidity invites the crushing blow of contempt 
or indifference from that member of a couple tied by love who, as the 
French say, 'lets herself (himself) be loved'. But knowledge of that 
kind cannot be acted upon. 

However, when they were eating their sandwiches and drinking 
their beer and watching the river flow to the sea, a spectacle notori- 
ously soothing to the spirit, he did at last say, 'What's the matter ?' 

'Nothing.' 

'Something's upset you.' 

She would not admit it for a long time ; not until they were driving 
back to London did she suddenly begin to talk about it. Edward 
gathered then, with a surprise only slightly less than her own, that 
Mme Tisserant had, as the saying then was, made a pass at her. 'As if,' 
Doris said, outraged and yet amused, giggling, 'as if she was a man.' 

Edward knew nothing about such conduct. He had in mind, under 
that heading, nothing but some newspaper comment on a book 
which had been banned some years before, and whose heroine had 
apparently been such a woman as Zenobie Tisserant. He had no 
doubt heard funny stories about such behaviour, but with no under- 
standing of the implications. Mme Tisserant's 'pass' had put Doris 
out of her depth. Is female homosexuality an upper-class privilege ? 
Certainly very few anomalies of sexual behaviour could have dis- 
turbed Doris, she had not been raised in a slum for nothing, and 
neither male homosexuality nor incest of various complicated kinds 
would have been new to her. But she had never, apparently, come 
across an instance of Zenobie Tisserant's sexual manners. Edward 
said, 'What did you do?' 

'Give her a shove. I'd've smacked her face for her only I was that 
surprised.' 

76 



'What did she do?' 

*Let me alone and went away. Later she came back and apolo- 
gized. She said she didn't know what got into her. *It better not get 
into you again,' I said. *I promise it won't,' she said. Then she said 
she'd gimme a token — that's what she called it — to remind me of 
her promise. Look!' 

Edward glanced away from the road for a moment as Doris shot 
her slender wrist clear of her cuff to display a tiny gold watch on a 
bracelet of flat gold links. He whistled. Doris said complacently, 'Bit 
of all right, isn't it ?' 

'What are you going to do?' 

'What d'ye mean ?' 

'It's going to be awkward staying there, surely?' 

'No. I can handle her and any more like her. People aren't 'alf 
queer, though. He's another.' 

'He?' 

'Custard-pie. That's what we call 'im in the fitting-room. The 
girls don't like him. There's advantages, though. He don't paw you 
about like the ordinary ones. But he's spiteful, a proper bitch at 
times.* 

They were at Hammersmith Bridge when she said, 'Don't go the 
old way, I got something to show you. Go down by the river and 
along the Embankment.' 

'What's all this?' 

'Wait'n see.' 

Just short of Charing Cross she said, 'Up there,' pointing to the 
bottom of Denham Street. It was narrow and made narrower by 
newspaper delivery vans parked all down one side. At the top a 
gigantic lorry was unloading goods into a popular restaurant base- 
ment and Edward managed to park behind it, as directed by Doris. 
She got out and led the way into a tall, narrow house which had been 
beautiful and was still elegant, although the white paint was flaking 
off the painted wooden fluted columns of the doorway, and its 
broken pediment. The narrow stairs were druggeted. On the second 
floor Doris led him into a large room with two big windows over 
Denham Street and a door into a smaller room. It was carpeted and 
furnished with pieces which were certainly not Doris's. He had no 
time to begin questioning her; the door into the small room opened 
and a tall, very fair girl with cat's eyes came in and Doris said, 'This 
is Irma, Ted. We're sharing the rooms. We moved in yesterday. 
I'n't it lovely?' 

77 



The fair girl ignored her and gave Edward a slight, grave bow and 
said, 'Varyatinski' or something of the sort. He supposed that it was 
her name and since he could hardly say nothing said, 'Tillotson', also 
with a small bow. Doris giggled and said, 'You two! You're a 
scream!' 

Edward did not feel like a scream : he had never been allowed into 
Doris's parents' house but he had grown used to the evil of not 
knowing what it was like nor what she did in it nor who else lived in 
it. To be famiUar with an anguish is to forget that it is one ; it becomes 
assimilated to the generaUzed sense of uneasiness and ceases to be 
specific and acute. He did not know what he was jealous of in 
Holloway, but whatever it was he was used to it, as people grow used 
to arthritic pains or harassing debts. And now Doris had escaped 
from that bearable unknown to a new one in which all London was 
open to her and could come to her. 'You might' ve told me,' was all 
he said. 

Ts Mr. Tillotson coming to our house-warming. Dot?' Miss 
Varyatinski said. Doris admired her while Edward absorbed the new 
pain of hearing her called Dot with all that it implied of an intimate 
life utterly unknown to him, the life of the fitting-room where the 
girls must trail and sit about half- dressed and undressed, knowing 
each other as he would never know Doris. Doris said, 'Bit of all 
right, i'n't she? She's a princess; did I tell you that? Princess 
Varyatinski . . . did I say it right, duck?' 

'Really, Dot, you're impossible!' 

'What house-warming is this ?' Edward said, made anxious by the 
fact that Doris had not even mentioned a party. 

'I was going to ask you tonight,' she said. 'It's Wednesday.' 

'But good God!' he said, and he could not have been more stricken 
if told that his father and Maud had just died in an accident of 
peculiar frightfulness, 'that's the day of our party and you promised 
to come.' 

She had, of course: and the occasion loomed enormous to Edward 
because he had decided that he must then do the thing which had 
come into his mind as his only hope when, at dinner in Flaubert's, he 
suddenly realized that he had played her away into Mme Tisserant's 
hands: he was going to ask her to marry him. Doris clapped the back 
of her hand to her mouth and stared at him in theatrical consternation. 
But it was the princess who saw the pain in his face and said, 
'There's no harm done. We can change our date easily enough.' 

'That's right, we can,' Doris said, and to him, 'I forgot.' 

78 



*I suppose you forgot about Easter, too,' he said bitterly, only 
partly relieved by the concession. 

'You've no call to say that. On'y I was going to make a new 
suggestion.' 

'What ? What suggestion ?' he urged her anxiously. 

'Changing the place.' 

'Whereto?' 

'I dunno. Couldn't we just drive somewhere an' stay where we 
liked?' 

'I suppose so, if that's what you'd like.' 

It was more evidence of change in her, of a new standard of taste. 
And Edward, who had given in very reluctantly to her in the matter 
of Southend and detested the idea, now gave up that watering-place 
with even more reluctance and a heavy sense of loss and a premonition 
of further misfortune. 

Twice that week he had got home to find telephone messages, 
garbled by Maud's daily woman and by herself, from Custer-Dwyer. 
(^A major something, it sounded like Cuspidor, wants you to phone 
him.^) There was a third that night, this time with the addition 
'urgent'. Edward had ignored the other two messages but now it 
suddenly occurred to him that the major had partial control of 
Doris's life, and that his business with him might even concern her 
directly. He telephoned the major's number. 

'You've taken your time,' Custer-Dwyer said, in the bluff-and- 
soldierly of his two manners. 

'Sorry,' Edward said, sulkily, offering no excuse. 

'Well, never mind. When can you come and see me ?' 

'I didn't know you'd asked me.' 

The major's manner changed a shade, touched on archness, 
suggested what he hoped for, as he said, 'Don't you be coquettish 
with me, young man! The fact is, Tillotson, we've managed to do 
something as you know, for your little friend Doris and now we'd 
like to do something for you.' 

Edward did not know what to say: he could have said, 'Why?' but 
in the end said that it was very kind of him. Custer-Dwyer said, 'Yes, 
you'll find that I'm a very kind man. I'd hoped to fix a date for this 
evening but it's too late for that now and I go to Paris tomorrow. 
I shall be there over Easter, but I'll phone you again when I get 
back.' 

A few days before the party Mr. Pardoner, who had refused 
Edward's invitation to come, put his head out of his office door and 

79 



said, 'David Mendoza rang while you were on the outside phone. 
You're to report to his office at once.' 

'What for?' Edward said, trying to imply that it must be some- 
thing to do with business, that it could not be for private reasons. 

*If you don't know, Tillotson, I certainly don't.* 

Edward was so used to going to David's office that it had ceased 
to have the invisible but powerful guardian of director-prestige 
before the door. So that when he reached it he knocked but walked 
in without waiting or looking at the tell-tale Hght above it. There 
was a man in the room and although he had his back to the door, for 
he was standing looking out of the window, Edward saw at once 
that it was not David. This man was old and had white hair. Edward 
had closed the door behind him or he would have backed out at 
once. As it was the man turned round sharply and looked at him. 
Edward recognized him as David's father, the head of the firm and 
of a score of other firms : his face was long and very lean, dead white 
but with some curious stains on the skin, like large numbers of 
freckles run together into brown masses. He had thin white hair, a 
short, pointed white beard and bright blue eyes. The distinction of 
his face was slightly marred by the crookedness of the nose, which 
looked as if it had been broken and reset badly about half-way down, 
so that it pointed a little to one side. It gave a touch of slyness to 
an otherwise noble countenance. He looked at Edward and said, 
'Well?' 

*Mr. David sent for me, sir.' 

'Who are you ?' 

'Tillotson, sir, Mr. Pardoner's assistant in the Gifts Department.' 

'What did Mr. David want you for ?' 

'I don't know, sir.' 

But Edward did know that none of the work David did for the 
firm had anything whatever to do with the Gifts Department. And 
just as he had felt irrationally guilty in the presence of David's 
mother, so now, confronted with his father, he had the same feelings 
that somehow he had injured this man. Yet there was nothing he had 
to reproach himself with, although it was exactly as if, for some 
reason quite beyond his ken, he had fallen under suspicion of evil- 
doing. The old man had turned away from him and was again looking 
out of the window although there was nothing to see but a blank 
wall of yellow brick. Over his shoulder he said, 'How old are you, 
Tillotson?' 

Edward told him. 

80 



'How long have you been here?* 

He told him that, too. 

*I see. My son will be back in a minute, he has gone to my office 
for me. You know him already, no doubt ?' 

It occurred to Edward to say that he had happened to be on hand 
when Mr. David had some trouble with his car in the firm's car-park 
and that he had been able to put it right for him. While he was 
saying this it seemed to Edward that the shadow over Mr. Mendoza's 
fa0G lightened a little. But as, in the succeeding silence, the old man 
stared at Edward's face, the darkness returned to his own and Edward 
became so uneasy that he found courage to speak and said, 'Perhaps 
I should come back later, sir .?* 

'Very well. I will tell Mr. David to let you know when he is ready 
for you.' 

Edward had been back at his desk half an hour before the house 
phone rang and David said, breathlessly, as if his room were be- 
sieged by enemies, 'Don't come up here. Meet me in the private bar 
of the Nag at quarter to one and we'll go to Soho for lunch. I'll square 
it with Pardoner if we're late.' 

'Well, all right,' Edward said. He resented his own sense of guilt; 
he disliked the conspiratorial atmosphere when, as far as he knew, 
there was no conspiracy. 

When Edward walked into the bar David was there already and 
had a drink ready for him. He said, 'Drink it up and let's get out of 
here.' His face was white and strained and he looked quite old. Out in 
the street and before they were even in the car David said, 'What did 
my father say to you ?' 

'Nothing. Asked who I was and how long I'd been with the firm 
and so on. Does it matter ?' 

'It's absurd, but he doesn't think it right for me to be friends 
with . . . oh, well, a junior member of the staff. He thinks it will give 
rise to . . . sort of ideas of favouritism.' 

'Maybe he's right.* 

'Rubbish! It's precisely that sort of thing, I mean his attitude to 
us, which makes . . . forgive me ... for bad labour relations as the 
ghastly phrase is. It made me extremely angry and I damn' well 
showed it and said what I thought.' 

He went on with that theme : it seemed to Edward that the anger 
which his friend was supposed to have felt and expressed was 
spurious. There was a shrillness and hollowness in David's pro- 
testations so disagreeable that at last, but before he showed any sign 

8i 



of making an end of it, Edward said, 'Well, let's forget it, David. 
Look, my father is giving a party on Wednesday next week. He's just 
sold some film-rights and wants to celebrate. Will you come?' 

'Rather! I should love to. I say, how very nice of you to ask me.' 

'Why.? Naturally, I ask you. Only one thing, Doris will be there.' 

*Oh. Will she? Next Wednesday you said?' 

'Yes. Why ? What do you mean ?' 

'Mean?' 

'You were going to say something about Doris being there.' 

'No.' 

Edward knew he was lying and refused to say any more, and his 
face must have been anxious and sullen, because when David had 
parked the car and they were going into the restaurant he said, 
'Look, do cheer up, Edward, you've got a face as long as a fiddle. 
What's the matter?' 

'You know something about Doris coming to our party. I want to 
know what it is.' 

David said nothing until they were seated at a table and then, by 
way of comment on Edward's scowl, said, 'Oh, God! Well all right, 
look, it's absolutely nothing definite and I'm practically certain to 
have got it all wrong because I wasn't listening caiefuUy, but' — he 
gave a curious little petulant shrug as if he was being made to confess 
under duress — *I was at the same party as Custer-Dwyer last night 
and he happened to say that he and Tisserant were going to Paris and 
taking their new model-girl with them and wouldn't be back till after 
Easter. I thought after what you'd told me last week that he must 
mean Doris. I expect I've got it all wrong and that they've got 
another new model-girl, I . . .' 

Edward did not hear the rest. He and David had been to that 
restaurant before and he knew where the telephone was. His hands 
were shaking so that it took longer than it should have done to find 
Dwyer et Tisserant in the book. The telephone was fixed to the wall 
and open to the room, not private, but he did not care, he was alone 
with his misery. A girl's voice said, 'Dwyer et Tisserant, good 
morning.' Edward asked for Doris and the girl repeated her name 
and said, 'I'm sorry, she's not here.' 

'Gone to lunch ?' Edward said, desperately hopeful. 

'No, to Paris.' 

He did not say thank you. He hung up the phone and crossed the 
restaurant and went out into the street and started walking. He was 
confused. He had some curious and rather terrible visions of cruelty 

82 



which made him walk very fast and be keenly aware of the hardness 
of the pavement under his feet and the ring of his heels on it ; but 
who was the victim of his tortures ? Custer-Dwyer, Doris, perhaps 
even David ? And he had strange visions of power which made him 
clench his fists and become aware of his finger-nails biting into his 
palms, with a kind of pleasure. What persisted, after his self had 
relaxed its agonizing grip on him, was physical disappointment, 
frustration experienced in advance: he was not to 'have' Doris at 
Easter. 

He forgot that the Sunbeam was in the car-park at the factory; 
it never even occurred to him to go back to the office. He went on 
walking up the Tottenham Court Road, past vast furniture shops 
with windows full of lino cylinders like groves of stylized tree trunks ; 
past sleazy cinemas and eating-hells, and so up the Hampstead Road 
and all as if he knew where he was going, but he didn't ; had a purpose, 
but he hadn't. Something in him must have known though, and had 
a purpose, but it was never explained to him. Why was it in Overbury 
Park that Edward came back to the immediate present, recovered 
himself from the strange and terrible world of cruelty and power 
beside the still-standing enclosure where the kangaroo had lived? 
He was calmer, cooler, more quietly dejected. An old man in a 
brown trilby hat bearing a park-keeper's badge came slowly towards 
him carefully sweeping the already clean path with a birch besom. 
Edward said, 'Didn't there used to be a kangaroo here ?' and the park- 
keeper said, 'Yes, but it died.' 

* * * 

David got to the Tillotson's for the party after most of the other 
guests were already there. Edward observed something odd in the 
way his father received David, but he could not have said exactly 
what it was; a little as if David were a revelation to him, the solution 
to a problem. But, with the overwhelming heartiness which was part 
of his social manner but never otherwise apparent in him, Mr. 
Tillotson said, 'So you're David Mendoza. My son has told us a 
great deal about you. I am delighted you could come, delighted!' 
There was a certain grandeur in his manner which ignored the 
shabbiness of the old Turkey carpet, the tinge of yellow in the too- 
often-washed Nottingham lace curtains, the lumpily salient springs 
of the arm-chairs. It attempted, not altogether successfully, to create 
a more worthy setting for the new suit Mr. Tillotson had bought 
himself, and the burr-walnut radiogram to which he drew attention 
by saying that he liked a bit of music. This machine, which changed 

83 



its own records, was playing In a Monastery Garden as if to vindicate 
Mr. Tillotson's claim; to Edward it seemed an injudicious choice 
for a party; it lacked cheerfulness. But he was struck by a note which 
he had detected, underlying what his father said to David, a note of 
sudden understanding as if he were saying to David, 'Oh, so you're 
the answer, are you ?' Answer to what ? 

David said nothing about Edward's behaviour in the restaurant 
nor did he remark on Doris's absence. 'Tell me who everyone is,' he 
said, looking round the room with a kind of theatrical eagerness as if 
all the guests were very interesting and distinguished people, and 
putting a shine on his eyes to express pleasure in his company. He 
fixed his attention on Mr. and Mrs. Blakely from next door who 
stood, rather glumly, she in a pink knitted sweater and a skirt which 
hung unevenly, watching the radiogram change In a Monastery 
Garden for Trees with a series of jerky, insect-like motions and 
clicks, and then smiling their admiration for its cleverness into each 
other's eyes. 

A long table had been covered with Maud's largest white cloth of 
which she used to say that you couldn't get damask like that nowa- 
days, and provided with enough bottles and glasses and plates of 
canapes, sandwiches 2nd petit fours to make a respectable showing. 

'Come and get a drink,' Edward said to David, 'I don't know most 
of these people. Some are neighbours and some are friends of Father's 
in his work.' 

They pushed their way through the crowd of pairs and trios who 
stood holding plate and glass and all talking brightly and showing 
their teeth in smiles. At the buffet Maud was pouring out lemonade 
for an elderly, slack-faced man with a spurious air of distinction 
conferred by a fine head of white hair; she was suggesting things for 
him to put on his plate, and he was saying, 'Nothing intoxicating, 
please, just lemonade.' 

Maud fastened on David and Edward as soon as they appeared. 

'You have not met Mr. Woodreeve, Edward? Mr. Woodreeve, 
this is Edward, the son of the house. And Mr. David Mendoza.' 

Mr. Woodreeve was secretary of the Overbury Park W.E.T.S., 
Workers Educational Tourism Society. He had soft and fleshy hands 
and immediately told them he was a linotype operator and went on 
at once to say that he had been teUing Mrs. Olantigh here that when 
he was a youth not yet out of his time, 'comps' had gone to their 
work in top-hats. 

'Yes,' Maud chipped in, all glowing with wide-eyed pleasure in 

84 



anything so pleasantly surprising, 'and in Mr. Woodreeve's in- 
dentures there's a clause saying that his master isn't to give him 
salmon for dinner more than three times a week! Now isn't that 
extraordinary ?' 

*Mind you,' Mr. Woodreeve reassured them, 'it was old-fashioned 
stuff. Just got left in the standard form from the old days, there 
wasn't any salmon in the Thames then.' 

Maud had been giving a short series of lectures to his Society, 
which was affiliated to the Overbury Park Co-op. He, his Society, 
the Labour Party branch of which he was likewise an officer, all 
belonged beyond the railway in Overbury Park South. He said, 'Mrs. 
Olantigh's lectures have been most successful.' He looked at her and 
went on, 'To 'ave lived in Venice, Verona and such . . .' He shook 
his head and raised his eyes Hke a clergyman in silent prayer and 
then went on, 'And yet I always say what's the matter with England, 
it's good enough for me. Ah, the old country takes a lot of beating 
and I've never bin out of it myself.' 

'Your educational tourism has been done at home, sir?' David 
said. 

'That's it. Take Canterbury Cathedral, now. Are you telling me 
you can do better than that in France ?' 

He had not so much the lively cockney speech as a London 
sloppiness of accent, the slurred consonants, meagre vowel sounds 
and glottal stop, without the wit. Under his skin there was a faint 
tinge of yellow which made him look ill. The next time Edward 
attended to him he was telling David in what state the Spanish war 
was ending. Edward did not think Mr. Woodreeve's opinion perfectly 
clear. His head was shaken but the significance of the shake remained 
open to interpretation. David, making talk, said it looked like a 
triumph for Fascism and a smack in our eye. 

'We've gotta keep our 'eads. Nobody's going to tell me the 
Government side didn't spoil their case with some queer friend?. 
I'm Labour as I dessay you know, but I don't know as you can blame 
the Tories for non-intervening. It wasn't to be expected we should 
take up with Communists and anarchists and that. I c'n tell you 
between you 'n' I 'n' the gatepost. Major Attlee didn' like what he 
saw w'en he went over.' 

Trying to strike a more frivolous, a more convivial note, David 
said, 'So, you stick to soft drinks, Mr. Woodreeve?' 

'Alwis 'ave. An' you young men c'd do worse'n follow my example. 
I don' say but an occasional glass of beer, but there's no danger to a 

85 



young man like social drinkin'. The way I look at it, it's unnecessary. 
Unnecessary, that's what it is.' And he began to tell them about 
Dr. Joshua Seligman who had lectured to his Society, had come 
from Oxford specially, a man with a giant brain, a great intellect as 
everyone knew, and never touched alcohol. 'Mind you, I don't go all 
the way with 'im. F'rinstance, he don't eat meat nor anything cooked. 
Fruit an' chopped cabbage mainly, an' 'olemeal bread. Very 'olesome 
I dessay, but not much variety.' Dr. Seligman had experimented 
with alcohol on guinea-pigs, giving some alcohol and others milk. 
The alcoholic guinea-pigs had a lower birth-rate and died young. 
David murmured something about the doctor having proved that 
alcohol was not good for guinea-pigs. Edward was seized by a fit of 
coughing but Mr. Woodreeve had no idea that the remark was any- 
thing but innocent and explained at length that what was bad for 
guinea-pigs was bad for people. He was still doing so as, like every- 
one else, they turned towards the door, prompted by the stir and 
mutter which marked an arrival of the first importance. Mr. Reuben 
Lipschitz had told Mr. Tillotson that he would 'look in for a 
moment'. He had done so, but took the gilt off the gingerbread of 
this condescension by immediately explaining that, a great soccer 
fan, he had been quite near .the house at Tottenham, seeing High- 
bury play Manchester United. 

Mr. Tillotson was a very much taller and bigger man than Mr. 
Lipschitz, yet such is the radiant energy of success and power that 
the distinguished guest had the air of taking up much more room. 
He was not more than five feet three inches tall and had one of those 
apparently boneless noses of no particular shape above a scrubby 
little moustache. What the shaving-soap advertisements called five 
o'clock shadow, moreover, darkened his plump little jowls. But the 
unimpressive details were easily forgotten in the bright quickness of 
black, darting, lively eyes magnified rather than hidden by thick 
lenses and enjoying a life which seemed independent of the rest of 
his face. 

*What a game!' he was saying, or rather proclaiming, as Edward 
pushed his way through the court which had formed about him, 
carrying the whisky and soda his father had signalled for. Mr. 
Lipschitz took the drink with a nod, and went on, exclamatory, 
'Like a machine in goal, that McQwown, like a windmill!' He 
swallowed his whisky, put the empty glass into the nearest hand 
with the complete confidence of a man used to service, and began 
to wave his arms about excitedly and to make quick, stiff-legged 

86 



little jumps from side to side, in imitation of the great Mancunian 
goalkeeper. Everyone watched him solemnly. 

Mr. Tillotson, meanwhile, was slowly, with little shoves and 
motions of the hands, urging him towards the buffet. Edward backed 
away from in front of him and most of the guests moved in unison 
behind him. A slow tide overwhelmed those who had remained 
standing about between the door and the buffet, and washed up 
round David and Mr. Woodreeve saying, '. . . I said to Dr. Tawney, 
I said, look 'ere, I'm a plain working man and what edjucation I've 
got I got for meself, and what you Oxford and Cambridge fellas've 
got to realize . . .' Edward lost the nature of the instruction Mr. 
Woodreeve had given to Dr. Tawney in listening to Mr. Lipschitz 
saying that he knew the result of every football match in advance, 
including the exact number of goals scored on both sides. He was, 
he said, psychic. Psychic, he added, in no ordinary sense, and he 
turned his back on the table from which he had taken nothing, to face 
his audience and say, 'There'll be a message soon, a message for all 
of you, for the whole suffering world. I'm not boasting. I don't know 
why I was chosen as an instrument. But I was. You can laugh if you 
like. That's O.K. by me, I can wait.' Nobody did laugh. And it came 
into Edward's mind that if it were true, if such a man had a 'message' 
he must use such means of expression as he had, he would not use a 
noble language, but his own ; it might be vulgar, lame in manner, the 
matter might still be true. Mr. Tillotson, with no sense of congruity, 
said, *Do have a sandwich, Reuben,' and the little man turned to 
look at the buffet with an expression of slight distaste and said, 'I 
only eat kosher, you know that.' 

It embarrassed Edward so that he actually blushed, because of his 
special feelings about Jewish peculiarities. Maud said, 'The egg 
sandwiches, then.' Mr. Lipschitz took one and, again doing his 
Ancient Mariner act with his glittering eyes, said, 'Because being 
psychic'^ — he put half the sandwich into his mouth and talked with 
his mouth full, spluttering crumbs of egg and bread — 'doesn't mean 
a man should turn from the religion of his ancestors. I'm a busy man. 
I work eighteen hours a day, well, you have to, to keep up nowadays 
what with the Yanks and the French, but there hasn't been a morning 
when I haven't put on the phylacteries my father gave me, that he had 
from his father, and him from his father before him, and said my 
prayers. Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand . . . that's 
what it says, and I don't care what a man is, Jew, C. of E., Catholic, 
or Moslem, let him be it, that's what I say.' 

87 



Edward had the sense to see that it was this, this candour in his 
convictions and in his enthusiasms, which had made this small and 
ugly man more powerful than everyone else in the room put together. 
It was an extraordinary thing to hear these pronouncements in the 
accents of a Berwick Street tout — accents and mannerisms which 
his training and frequentations in film finance and big business 
had done nothing to soften; it was embarrassing; but it was not 
particularly funny and only David was amused rather than impressed. 
Edward heard Mr. Woodreeve behind him saying that he was an 
Agnostic himself and always said that you ought to respect other 
people's opinions. A man named Carpenter, a friend of Mr. Tillot- 
son's who wrote short stories for a living and had published an un- 
successful novel, said that if he could know the results of football 
matches in advance he would do the pools and be a millionaire by 
now. 

'You think I haven't thought of that? Do you take me for a 
schlemilV Mr. Lipschitz turned on him quite angrily, then shook his 
head violently and explained, 'It wouldn't be playing the game, it 
wouldn't be right.* 

The coagulation of guests about the man of power broke up again 
into unattached particles. There was a moment when David and Mr. 
Woodreeve and Edward stood separated from Mr. Lipschitz only by 
Maud and Mr. Tillotson, but Mr. Tillotson made no move to in- 
troduce his two rich men to each other, and David, turning his back 
on them, said, 'My father knows this fellow, though I've never met 
him. I gather he's the sharpest tax-evasion expert in the country, and 
gives advice on it, although only as an amateur.' That, too, was 
confirmed as one of the attributes of this many-sided man when, a 
little later in the evening, Edward overheard him talking to Carpenter, 
who had recently succeeded in selling a story to The Saturday 
Evening Post and had received tentative inquiries about it from an 
American film producer : there was a possibility of selling the film- 
rights. He must have told Mr. Lipschitz about it, for that magnate 
was saying, *. . . you do as I tell you and you won't pay any tax at 
all, not to anybody, our lot or their lot. Listen, you form an in- 
corporated company in Puerto Rico, see? Right. You sell all your 
rights in this property of yours to the company for, say, a thousand 
dollars. That's a capital transaction and you don't pay tax on it, but 
if they try to collect on it, tax on two hundred quid, you should 
worry! You pay and say nothing. Right. So then this company, 
which is you of course, in Puerto Rico, collects the payment for 

88 



rights and . . .' Edward did not hear the rest; a black pall of mortal 
boredom descended on him when the subject under discussion was 
other people's money. Obviously, Reuben Lipschitz was not like 
that, he was interested in money *platonically'. But in any case 
there was a violent diversion almost immediately after Edward's 
attention had flagged, a swirl and eddy away from Mr. Lipschitz and 
towards Mr. Woodreeve who had drawn attention to himself by 
suddenly buckling at the knees and collapsing in a dead faint on the 
floor. Edward heard David say, 'People shouldn't drink lemonade,' 
as he followed Maud through the ring forming about the fallen man 
and helped her to straighten him out and raise his head. She knelt 
beside him and looked round distractedly and said, 'What on earth's 
happened to him? This is awful! Edward, find your father and tell 
him to ring Dr. Sercombe at once . . .' 

'Don't you do it, boy,' Edward heard Mr. Lipschitz's voice and 
turned round to find him just behind. 'Doctors don't know anything. 
I cured mine of fibrositis by the laying on of hands.' He said that it 
wasn't him, he took no credit, it was a power which used him, and 
without a trace of self-consciousness or anything but genuine con- 
cern he knelt beside Mr. Woodreeve's unconscious form, pushed 
Maud out of the way, got his Uttle knees astride the sick man's big 
body, and, like an Arab making obeisance towards Mecca at the 
summons of the muezzin, bowed himself down until his forehead 
touched his unconscious patient's and remained in that attitude for 
at least a minute. Nobody said or did anything. They all looked away 
from each other. Edward saw David make a quick, impatient move 
and he saw his father, who had reappeared, put up his hand to check 
him. It was Mrs. Blakely, whose son was a medical student, who, 
perhaps outraged by this abracadabra, said, 'I really think a doctor . . .' 
but at that moment Mr. Woodreeve stirred and groaned and Mr. 
Lipschitz, spry as an acrobat, was instantly on his pointed little feet. 
Mr. Woodreeve sat up, supported again by Maud. Mr. Lipschitz 
said, 'It's the ichor.' 

David, puzzled, said, 'The what ?' 

'The ichor, the life-fluid. It's what they call afl?latus. It flows from 
me to him. Know what I feel like now ? Like a car battery that's been 
run down. Flat!* 

Maud said, 'Edward, Mr. Woodreeve would like to go home. 
You'd better get your car and take him. It's only under the tunnel 
and into Overbury Park Road.' 

The tunnel was what joined the South to the North of Overbury 

89 



Park for vehicles, as the iron bridge joined them for foot passengers. 
Glad to get out Edward made for the door as willing hands began to 
raise the stricken man, now babbling a little. David caught Edward 
at the house door and went with him to get the Sunbeam round to 
the front of the house. He said, 'Whatever happened to the old bore ?' 

*rve no idea. It struck me that he doesn't look very healthy.' 

'Look, Edward, I think I'll go now if you don't mind. Please say 
my thank-yous and good-nights to your father and Mrs. Olantigh.' 

'Wait till I get back. I shan't be long. Though it's boring for 
you.' 

'It isn't that, but I think your father's taken against me.' 

'You're imagining things.' 

'No, honestly. Distinctly rebarbative in his manner, I assure you.' 

'Well, all right. I'll see you tomorrow.' 

'Look, Edward, what are you doing for Easter?' 

'I don't know. It depends on Doris.' 

'But I thought . . .' 

'I know,' Edward interrupted hastily, 'but I think she'll be back.' 

David had been walking by Edward's side. They had reached the 
car. As Edward got in and switched on the lights he had a glimpse of 
his friend's face in the pale glim reflected off the road surface. There 
was a pitiful plea in its whiteness which infuriated him. And wHen, 
with exasperating gentleness, David said, 'She won't, you know,' 
Edv/ard, having just started the engine, put his foot hard down on 
the accelerator (the ' exhiliarator' as Doris, perfectly seriously, called 
it, with no idea that this was an error, much less that it was a very 
apt one), so that the noise made any further exchanges impossible. 
Of course, Edward knew that Doris would not be back; but, after 
all, she mighty provided nobody put the certainty that she would 
not into words. He leaned across and opened the passenger door. 
David looked at him, then turned away and started to walk towards 
the place where he had parked his own car. Edward overtook him and 
stopped and opened the door again and shouted at him to stop being 
a bloody fool and to get in. At that David began to run, and Edward 
gave it up and was obliged to forget him anyway as he drew up before 
the front door and saw it open and his father and Maud, supporting 
Mr. Woodreeve between them, come slowly down the steps. 

As they put Mr. Woodreeve into the car, he kept on repeating his 
apologies. 'Just a bit of a turn, you know, just a bit of a turn.' To 
Edward, Maud said, 'Should I come with you?' He said no, Mr. 
Woodreeve seemed all right, and he could manage, and turned round 

90 



to look at his passenger, dumped like a big sack in the back seat, and 
to ask, 'What number ?' 

'Fourteen, Overbury Park Road,' Mr. Woodreeve said. Fourteen 
Overbury Park Road; it was new, unfamiliar to Edward, meant noth- 
ing at all. It was a designation of place shortly to be more important 
to him than all the rest of the world's geography together. When they 
got there it was too dark for him to see what the road or the house 
were like and as he pulled up he said, 'You'd better let me explain to 
your family.' But Mr. Woodreeve was already grunting his way out 
of the car looking, at least by the yellow light of a street lamp, quite 
ghastly. Edward helped him up the steps — like his own, this house 
had steps and a semi-basement — and as Mr. Woodreeve stood on the 
top one, exhausted, not offering to get out a key, Edward rang the 
bell. He heard it buzz inside the house and almost at once a light 
came on in the hall, revealing the stained-glass panel in the door, 
depicting palms, yellow sand and blue sea. Then he was looking at a 
tall, fair-haired girl with big eyes in an oval face, who said, 'Father!' 

'A bit of a turn,' the old man said again, and breaking away from 
Edward's supporting hand, stumped heavily into the hall and began 
slowly mounting the narrow staircase which continued it. A door 
opened, and a small thin woman whom Edward could not see pro- 
perly came out into the hall and said, *Alf . . . why, whatever . . .' 
Edward heard a last mumbled repetition of *A bit of a turn,' and 
louder, 'No fuss, now, Jenny!' The girl was saying, 'It was very good 
of you to bring my father home. He's never been taken ill when he 
was out before.' There was that in her way of saying it which 
suggested that it was about the only thing he had not done to earn 
her disapproval; that anything was to be expected of him. Edward 
noticed that her speech was whole, not mutilated like her father's. 
He said, 'Oh, not at all. Glad to help. Hope he'll be O.K. I must go 
back now.' 

'Then I won't ask you in,' the girl said. 

Her face did not make much impression on him, or if it did the 
impact was delayed. Even had he dwelt on it as he drove home, in- 
stead of thinking with impatience about David's hysterical conduct, 
any image he might have borne in his mind of her shining head 
against that dark and narrow hall, against the small dry figure of the 
woman he took to be her mother, against the massive clumsiness of 
her father's boots and trouser ends slowly mounting the stairs behind 
her, would have been swept away by the storm which burst at home 
the moment the last guest had gone and Mr. Tillotson, turning from 

91 



shutting and bolting the front door, faced him in the narrow hall and, 
white with the anger he could at last release, said, 'I want to talk 
to you.' 

Edward followed him into the front room where Maud was piling 
the broken meats and empty bottles of the party on to a tray. Mr. 
Tillotson said, *A11 right, Maud,' dismissively, and she edged out 
of the room using the heavily laden tray as an object of attention so 
that she need not look at either of them. Mr. Tillotson, his face still 
white and curiously rigid, said, 'What sort of a creature are you ?' 

Edward did not know what he meant, why he was so angry and 
full of hate. But there was a generalized guilt in himself; he was 
never, then or later, capable of righteousness. Something — that taint 
of Dreyfus ? — put him for ever slightly in the wrong. Not in innocent 
surprise, then, but defensively, he said, T don't know what this is 
about.' 

'Either you're a fool,' his father said, *or you're something much 
worse. A nice choice for a father to have to make, isn't it ?' And as 
Edward continued to look at him in what had the air of guilt-stricken 
sulkiness, Mr. Tillotson suddenly shouted at him with extraordinary 
and terrifying violence, 'How dare you bring that — that sodomite 
into my house ?' 

Even had Edward brought more than one friend to the house, 
creating a. problem in identification, he would have had no hesitation 
in recognizing David. He would have known who his father meant, 
rather as if he had long been saying to himself (but he hadn't), that 
there was surely something wrong with David, something he ought 
to be ashamed of. All the same, he did not know what it was and 
there was as much curiosity as anger in his 'What on earth do you 
mean ?' 

'If you really don't know then God help you. You're not a child 
any longer. And if you do then don't try to bluff and lie to me. I 
don't suppose I can stop you choosing the rottenest kind of friends 
if that's the sort of man you are, but I'll thank you not to bring 
your pansy-boys in here, understand ?' 

There was no sense of surprise in Edward, nor impulse to in- 
dignant denial, nor move to defend his friend. He was suddenly in 
an agony of embarrassment. He muttered something about 'not 
having realized'. That hangdog conduct and, no doubt, his expres- 
sion, lowered his father's tone. Mr. Tillotson was a kind man at 
heart: it was more in sorrow than in anger that he said, 'But Edward, 
you should have realized. Can't you see what a shock it was to me ? 

92 



What was I to think ? Either that you, my son, were one of them — 
Fd rather have seen you dead! — or that you thought because he's 
rich it was worth overlooking the disgust any normal man must 
feel/ 

Edward tried to be sure that now, enlightened, he was feeling 
disgust. And as his father went on talking about what the normal 
man 'must feel' about David and his kind, Edward found himself 
substituting Custer-Dwyer for David as the object of this lesson. 
He could not trust himself to feel disgust with David, but Custer- 
Dwyer was quite another matter. He did not resist his father's argu- 
ments or find them unconvincing : he did not deny the soundness of 
his criteria but simply found them hard to live up to. Edward 
supposed that there was a weakness in him; in some way he, too, 
was a Httle on the disgusting side of the barricade. He did not know 
in what manner he fell short of his father's normal man, but that he 
did so was as clear to him as if some muscle in his body had suddenly 
let him down. And seeing Edward defenceless and stricken rather 
than defiant, his father became gentle. 

'I'm sorry I spoke so angrily. I was very upset. I think perhaps 
you didn't understand, which means there's no harm done, especi- 
ally as you do understand now. It was natural enough for you to feel 
flattered. I suppose the young man's a millionaire? God knows, I'm 
sorry for his parents!' (The tragic mask of Mrs. Mendoza's face 
appeared to Edward.) 'It's a lesson not to envy the rich, eh? I'm 
not going to order you not to see him again, Edward. I've no right 
to do that and in your job it would be impossible anyway. We must 
look out for something else. But you're on your guard now. Your 
own decent feelings will do the rest. I've always known your heart 
was in the right place. Anyone can come under a bad influence. I 
don't think this talk's been wasted, do you ?' 

Mr. Tillotson raised a hand and, suddenly less appallingly sincere, 
more aware of himself as en scene, he squeezed Edward's shoulder 
and made an exit. And it was true that his talk had not been wasted, 
it had achieved two things. It gave Edward a sense of conferring a 
favour by remaining David's friend; and it reinforced his resentment 
against Custer-Dwyer for taking Doris away from him. It became 
almost all right for him to take everything from David and give 
nothing; it became all right to fix his frustration on an individual. 
Edward's father had given him the gift of righteousness: the amount 
of damage he had done in that ten minutes of fatherly reproach and 
advice was almost incredible. 

93 



That was not quite the last Edward saw of his father that evening. 
As he was undressing he came into his room. Mr. Tillotson had not 
started to undress and he had a cheque in his hand. He put it down 
on Edward's dressing-table and said, 'Your hundred pounds. Don*t 
spend it all on riotous living. Good night, old chap.' 

No doubt about it, it was his night. 



5 

Two days before Good Friday Edward had a postcard of the Eiffel 
Tower from Doris : Stuck in gay Puree for three weeks. Shall I he 
forgiven XXX Doris. He was angry to the point of tears. Later, her 
shall I he forgiven and her three kisses were some consolation. He did 
not detect the enormous progress in her education which the post- 
card implied, nor even the false note. They were evidence of the great 
stride she had taken towards what is called sophistication. Only a 
few weeks before she would have been incapable of using a phrase 
which was empty : it would not have occurred to her. 

Edward went to Goudhurst. It was the year which was dominated 
by the raucous clamour of Hitler's voice, by the symbol of Chamber- 
lain's umbrella, by the city of Munich. No comets drew a flaming 
warning across the sky and no two-headed calves were born, yet 
portents were not wanting. There were strange tales of wild depar- 
tures in diplomacy. Mr. Pardoner, for instance, was one of the people 
who believed that *we' really had offered Germany danegeld to the 
extent of one thousand million pounds : it was, he said, the sort of 
thing we would do, *And you might as well try to change the weather 
by a bribe, Tillotson. Yesterday I saw an old man bearing a hand- 
lettered sandwich-board proclaiming that the day of wrath was at 
hand. That fellow should be editor of The Times.' 

He was irritated by Edward's indifference. When Edward said 
that, war or peace, there was nothing he could do about it, which 
was more or less what he had said himself, Mr. Pardoner became 
angry and said it was precisely that attitude which was making a 
general war certain. T don't think it is certain,' Edward said, *it may 
happen and it may not, like rain tomorrow.' 

That was what he felt about it: perhaps most people did. The 
gratitude felt towards Mr. Neville Chamberlain, who happened to be 
Prime Minister that year, was the gratitude Indians feel towards a 

94 



mahatma who fasts to end a drought or send down flood waters. 
Edward paid so Httle reasonable attention to the news that he could 
never afterwards remember whether the first famous, later considered 
infamous, Munich arrangement came before or after that Easter 
holiday. He had only a vague idea that it came much later in the 
year. 

The country round Goudhurst and the little town itself looked 
unfamiliar from the driving seat of a car. The dangerous corner by 
the church and the steepness of the hill down into the centre of the 
town both surprised him. He knew them at walking pace, not driving 
pace. He went through without stopping and out on to the narrow 
road towards Curtisden Green. His Uncle Walter's holding lay off 
that road at the end of a long cinder-track which was apt to vanish 
under mud in wet weather. Just before he came to its corner and the 
crooked board with the pointing hand and the word Tillotsons, he 
saw a girl walking the verge, stepping in and out of the dry ditch as 
she picked primroses from under the hedge. He was driving slowly 
and she turned to stare. He recognized Eileen Figgis, although the 
change since he had last seen her was almost a transformation. She 
had grown several inches taller, her face had fined from round to 
oval, her body from sturdy to graceful. Unselfconsciously she held 
her primroses at the level of her mouth, inhaling their freshness as 
she watched him approach. He stopped the car and said, 'Hallo, 
Eileen.' 

'Ted Tillotson, well I never!' 

'Can I give you a lift ?' 

'I'm only going to the cottage.' 

'Well, if you've got enough flowers, I'll drive you there.' 

'It's outa your way.' 

'I'm in no hurry, Eileen.' 

Edward opened the door and Eileen got in. She did not say any- 
thing about the car. He asked after her parents. 'I keep house for 
Father, now. You didn't hear Mother passed on V 

'No. I'm very sorry, Eileen.' 

'I dunno. She was alwis in pain at the last. The doctor said we'd 
got to think it was a happy release.' 

She explained this as if the doctor's consolation had been some sort 
of oflBcial instruction filtering down to her through the bureaucracy. 

'Of course. But you must miss her.' 

'I dessay I do,' Eileen said, doubtfully. Her mother, resentful of 
Figgis's adoration of their daughter, had not been kind to her. 

95 



Edward remembered that, at the time when Eileen was initiating 
him into the pleasures of sex in the heart of the old, hollow, hazel 
hedge which marked one boundary of his uncle's land, Mrs. Figgis 
had been thought too hospitable to some of her gipsy relatives — they 
were 'travellers' rather than gipsies — who stayed at the cottage and 
made brutal fun of Figgis; and that Eileen had taken his part. He, 
Arthur Figgis, worked for the Council at stopping the roads from 
being eaten up by their verges, an eternal task. In all weathers he 
was out, a lonely, deliberate man, by many thought simple, if not 
an idiot, chopping, chopping at the encroaching grass and weeds, 
annually recovering the two inches of civiHzation which had gone 
back to nature, hedging, ditching and trimming. An odd man with 
an odd story: very tall, his huge bones visible, with a stumping gait, 
colourless eyes and hair, and very few words, he was almost illiterate. 
Yet he had been born to a certain rank in the community: the 
Figgises had been artisans and small land-owning farmers in the 
parish for at least a thousand years. Eileen said, * Dad's got a better 
job now. He's gardener to the chap that's bought Mulberry Trees. 
Name of McFadden.' 

'Good Lord,' Edward said, 'somebody bought it at last.^' 

'Yes, an' done it up nice, too.' 

'Well, I'm glad your father's all right, Eileen.' 

'Yes. I've never known him so easy.' 

'I'm glad.' 

They had reached the cottage. Some of the desire Edward had 
been accumulating for Doris shifted to Eileen as she got out of the 
car, her long, brown legs reaching for the ground, the smallness of 
her waist apparent even in the old macintosh she wore. 

'The pear-tree's grown,' he said, wondering if it would be possible 
to complete, in his four days of holiday, what she and he had started 
when they were still children. Together they looked at the trained 
pear-tree as if it were an object of the utmost interest, and watched 
each other out of the sides of their eyes. When his mother left him 
the cottage, Figgis planted a pear-tree to the windowless south wall. 
Each year, as the low lateral branches grew longer, he trained a pair 
of new vertical branches to grow up to the eaves from which hung the 
hay and feathers carried into the loft by nesting starlings and 
sparrows. The training and pruning of that tree was done with 
exquisite neatness and geometrical symmetry. In flower, as now it 
was, it made a crowded grid of cream-flushed white blossom against 
the old brick. Edward had stopped the engine and they could hear, 

96 



very faintly, the hum of wild bees carrying pollen to the tree from 
the huge old perry pear-tree which stood in one corner of the small 
garden, a head of millions of flowers. 

*Yes, it's grown,' Eileen said and, 'Coming to the dance tonight, or 
are you too grand now ?' glancing at the car. 

'Cossenden?' 

'That's right. In the old Toc-H hut.' 

*I might come. Like me to?' 

'Anyone c'n go that's got a shillin'.' 

She went into the cottage with a nod. Edward turned the car and 
drove back to the cinder track which led to his uncle's house. It was 
a weather-board cube painted brown and roofed with Sussex tiles. 
The white-painted frames of the square windows gave it an albino 
look. There were no windows, however, on the side facing the road, 
and Walter Tillotson had used that expanse of bare white wall to 
convey a message which he had at heart, in shiny black sans-serif 
letters over a foot tall : 

THE COMING OF THE LORD DRAWETH NIGH 
BE YE PREPARED 

Edward's Aunt Sarah, although she had a respect for ordinary 
church religion, was ashamed of this. 'And besides,' she once com- 
plained to him, 'people think it's paid for, like those advertisements 
for newspapers you see painted on the sides of houses.' But it was 
not paid for, of course: her husband, like Mr. Reuben Lipschitz, 
thought that you ought to proclaim what you believe. And in course 
of time Mrs. Tillotson had ceased to notice the warning excepting 
during the week following its annual repainting, which Walter 
Tillotson did himself. Moreover, the black paint was a concession to 
her; he had wanted to do it in scarlet, the colour of danger and of 
divine love. 

The house stood between the big free-range poultry field, dotted 
symmetrically with arks and coops, a wet meadow bounded by the 
hollow hazel-hedge of Edward's first sin, and the field of glass- 
houses with the tall brick chimney of the boiler furnace. There were 
two immensely tall bird-cherries in the hazel hedge, now beautiful 
and fragrant in flower, and an old, twisted wild plum-tree. Edward's 
aunt was in her small, suburban-looking front garden, watering 
seedlings. Year after year she grew scarlet salvia mixed with orange 
marigolds, which hideous combination confirmed the evidence of 
her interior decorating, that she was colour-blind. As Edward drew 

97 



up he watched her face eagerly for the welcome, the love which had 
been the rock of his childhood. It was there, unchanged like the rest 
of her. She kissed him and said, *You grow as handsome as your 
grandfather, rest his soul, but handsome is as handsome does. So 
you didn't bring your young lady.' 

'She couldn't come. You got my card?' 

'Yes, and I'll not pretend I was sorry, for I'd rather have you to 
ourselves.' 

Not for the first time it occurred to Edward that people get into 
the wrong bodies: it was one of the reasons he never really liked 
Charles Dickens. It was his aunt, tall and bony and long-faced, and 
moving with the awkward, powerful stride of a Light Sussex hen 
which has spotted a large worm, who had the fat woman's character, 
whereas his Uncle Walter, for all his spiritual leanness, was a roundish 
man, dumpy and with a spherical head. To see him sitting in his chair 
by the fire as he did when they went into the house, you would have 
said an easy-going, easy-laughing man. Edward, who knew him, was 
very surprised to find him in that posture during working hours, or 
would have been if his aunt had not halted before they came to the 
living-room door and explained, 'Your uncle's in there. He had a 
fainting fit last night, I had to cry before I could get him to take the 
morning off. It wasn't easy, I'm that out of practice at my age, but 
I squeezed a few tears in a good cause. His hand's bandaged, don't 
pass a remark or ask after it, now, there's a good lad.' 

'What happened ?' 

'Up to his old tricks. And after he'd promised me, too. Men! 
There's nothing silUer than a man with a bee in his bonnet and if 
you ask me it's only a step to bats in his belfry.' 

His old tricks: the explanation was enough for Edward. A book 
which his uncle, perhaps alone among his countrymen, still 
read, was Foxe's Book of Martyrs. He read in it every night for at 
least a few minutes, but he did not read mechanically, the book still 
moved and disturbed him. One night, when Edward was about six- 
teen or perhaps a year younger, the three of them had been sitting 
round the fire during the Christmas holidays, an open canopied 
hearth it was, on which they could burn unsawn cord-wood up to 
four feet long. From time to time a log burnt through and collapsed, 
and the whole fire needed pushing together into the incandescent 
centre on its great heap of glowing ash. There were tongs to do it 
with. On this occasion Walter Tillotson put aside his Foxe and 
stared at the pulsing red of the hot charcoal for at least a minute 

98 



before he did anything. Then he went on his knees and started to 
pick up the burnt ends of wood and thrust them into the centre with 
his plump but calloused hands. He did it slowly and carefully and 
Edward watched him, and it seemed to him that he kept his hand 
lii Bering deliberately within the region of intolerable heat. At last 
Ea>/ard could bear it no longer and said, 'Good heavens, doesn't it 
burn?' 

'Yes, it burns,' his uncle said, and Sarah Tillotson looked up from 
her needlework and said, 'Walter! You promised!' 

He was looking at the back of his right hand, which was scarlet, 
partly cooked in fact, for the next day it was one huge blister and 
they had to have the doctor. He said, 'I'd no right to promise, but 
flesh is weak,' and rose and went out of the room. His wife watched 
him go with pain in her face but did not follow him at once. She said, 
'It's them martyrs of his,' as if referring to a minor vice harmful to 
his health. Then she went after him to make him put butter on the 
burn. In time Edward came to understand what his uncle was doing : 
he was driven by the contrast between what the martyrs endured 
and the weakness of his own flesh in the face of pain, to 'test' himself. 
That was what Edward's aunt had meant when she referred to his 
'old tricks'. 

Walter Tillotson was soberly glad to see Edward and presently 
Mrs. Tillotson left them together in the ugly little room with its 
yellow and purple lightning-flash wallpaper, brown paint, old chintz 
curtains washed pale-pink and grey at the square sash-windows. 
Uncle Walter and Edward never had much to say to each other. If 
Uncle Walter talked it was usually about his endless war with the 
Egg and Tomato Board. It was a co-operative and because it would 
have been ruin not to join, he was a member, but against his con- 
science, any sort of combination being a sin. This spiritual objection 
was expressed in occasional breaches of rules, such as selling (usually 
at a loss) outside the co-operative or withholding the sum due from 
him as his share of the levy raised on members to finance the Board's 
bureaucracy. As to his other subject, religion, he rarely talked about 
it for long and then in a disconcertingly ejaculatory style. The reason 
for this, as Edward understood it, was that there could be no effective 
evangeHsm of people already christened. The most you could do 
was to warn them that the day of reckoning was at hand and that they 
would do well to look into their souls and see whether or not they 
were 'justified'. Not that you could be sure by just looking. And any- 
way you could not do anything about it, you were either justified or 

99 



you were not; works could accomplish nothing positive, although 
practical charity seemed to be some insurance against a vague danger 
of, as it were, de-justification. Edward never understood it properly. 
(Mr, McFadden, some time during the terrible week which followed, 
said it was a kind of seventeenth- century Scotch Calvinism. He would 
ask after Edward's uncle, whom he admired, by saying, 'How's our 
antinomian?' But Edward never found out what that meant.) 

Obeying his aunt's instruction Edward said nothing about his 
uncle's bandaged hand, but no doubt he stared at it, for after a silence 
which was oppressive Uncle Walter raised it from his knee and said, 
'Looking at this, boy?' 

'A bad cut?' Edward said, although he knew perfectly well that 
Walter Tillotson never lied. 

'No, it's a burn.' And staring into the fire, 'Your aunt says it's 
wicked folly. But how's a man to know himself unless by testing, 
Edward? There's an inner conviction of justification, I know that of 
course. But we're all weaklings. There are doubts like stomach-ache. 
There's times I'm not sure. I'm not tested.* 

Although Edward was quite fond of his uncle he always found his 
preoccupation with his future in the hereafter very repulsive. It 
seemed to him, although of course he never said so, extraordinarily 
selfish, like Christian abandoning his fellow-citizens to their damna- 
tion in order to save himself. He could not help wondering whether 
his uncle was indiflPerent or on the other hand despairing of his wife's 
fate and Edward's own; for he could not surely have believed them 
'justified'. It was puzzling in so kind a man as Edward had always 
found him, despite his unhappy temper. 

Edward's aunt came back into the room and with her, cheerful- 
ness. He told her that he had seen Eileen Figgis and given the girl a 
lift and thought her very pretty. His aunt flushed faintly and said, 
'You don't want to have nought to do with her, she's no better than 
a . . .' She did not complete the stricture because her husband, who 
on occasion lapsed into an archaic style owing to the nature of 
his reading, said, 'Woman! Bridle your tongue!' It was not that he 
was latitudinarian in matters of morality, of course ; he knew poor 
Eileen was as damned as anyone can possibly be. But it was the sin 
close to hand that you had to check, in this case uncharity. Fortu- 
nately neither his wife nor his nephew took this kind of thing seri- 
ously: it was just Walter's way. Mrs. Tillotson said, 'Don't you take 
that tone with me, Walter Tillotson. Whatever next!' But it was 
mildly, almost absently said, and she went on, more vigorously, 'I'll 



I GO 



not see your brother's son walk into that hussy's lure and say 
nought!' 

Nought was one of the few dialect words she had left: she pro- 
nounced it nowt. Edward's aunt came from somewhere near Bolton 
and when he was little she still used to say things like 'happen it'll 
rain\ and to call him Hhou\ But the meagre speech of Kent had 
slowly impoverished her English, he had not been 'thou'd' for years 
and if she foresaw rain it was in the clumsier, 'It's probably going to 
rain' of standard English. Edward loved her nowt and her occasion- 
ally colourful constructions because they were associated with the 
best thing in his childhood. 

'You go to that dance if you want to,' she said, when he mentioned 
Eileen's suggestion, 'you're here to enjoy yourself, Teddy. But as for 
that young woman, don't say you haven't been warned.' 

Poor Aunt Sarah! There was not much she could tell him about 
Eileen. And he heard her warning as a sort of promise renewed : he 
was not much inclined for dancing, but for a girl, yes. He had been 
promised Doris but another would have to do. There was a kind of 
spite in the idea; but that was his mood. He said, 'She told me 
Mulberry Trees is sold and her father gardener there ' 

'That's right. A Mr. McFadden. Such a nice man though they say 
he writes for the papers. Figgis has fallen on those great feet of his 
there, he can't have hoped for such a place. Two pounds a week, 
they say, and him to have the selling of the surplus garden stuff. He 
won't know himself.' 

At six o'clock they sat down to a tea of eggs and bread and butter 
and fried plaice, crumpets and honey. His uncle asked Edward to 
switch on the wireless; he did so but the set was dead. His aunt said 
it couldn't be the battery as she'd put the newly charged one from 
the garage in yesterday. Edward said he would look at the set after tea 
and in default of the news which his uncle liked to listen to as he ate. 
Aunt Sarah made conversation: she said her newspaper said there 
wouldn't be a war; and she wished she had Hitler, 'as he calls him- 
self, where she could get at him. For Edward's aunt such phrases as 
'as he calls himself and 'so-called' were simply pejorative adjectives. 
Uncle Walter said that they had heard Hitler on the wireless one 
night and Aunt Sarah said, 'All that shouting! A man in his position, 
you'd think he'd know better.' Uncle Walter was not sure Hitler 
might not be right about the Jews, though, and looking up from his 
plaice, holding three chips impaled on his erect fork, 'The wounds 
the Jews inflicted on Him bleed yet, Edward,' he said, with a very 

lOI 



long face. Aunt Sarah said, *It wasn't Jews, it was Roman soldiers 
as you very well know, Walter, and you've no call to speak so in front 
of the boy.' 

For a moment Edward did not know what she meant but when he 
realized that she was referring to his mother's family, that is to say 
his grandfather Dreyfus, he flushed and muttered angrily something 
about it being all one to him; whereupon she shook her head and 
said that blood was thicker than water. 

Edward took his last cup of tea over to the bamboo table in the 
window where the wireless stood, opened the set and stared at the 
circuit. The set was an old one and the circuit easy to follow. He 
found that a soldered joint to a valve anode had broken. His uncle 
always had excellent tools for all kinds of work : Edward borrowed a 
soldering iron and some flux and a blowlamp, and remade the joint. 
The wireless set worked after that, but the quality was very poor. 
Edward had nothing to do and to pass the time he sat down and drew 
a diagram of the whole circuit on a page torn from his aunt's house- 
hold accounts book; then he pondered it, wondering how he might 
improve the quality of reproduction, although both his aunt and 
uncle said they thought it was fine. 

Edward's idea that he might improve his uncle's wireless set was 
prompted, at least in part, by the final chapter of Pardoner on The 
Mathematics of Alternating Currents ^ a chapter in which the fact that 
the author was a musician became apparent. It dealt with a subject 
technically known as 'band-widths' but it concluded with some 
considerations, more speculative than didactic, on the relationship 
between audio-harmonics and electrical harmonics. Moreover, in 
another of the textbooks — Barton & Clough — with which Edward 
occupied a part of his leisure both in and out of the office, the question 
of the true reproduction of musical instrument harmonics, in 
electronics terms, had occupied his attention. It would be dis- 
courteous to trouble the reader with technicalities, which would be 
even more out of place here than, according to Stendhal, politics in 
a novel, which he compared to a pistol shot at a concert: neverthe- 
less, so overwhelming was that few minutes' work with his uncle's 
wireless set on the course of Edward's life, that it is necessary to say 
something about it. 

To analyse the origin of the changes in our lives, we need a 
biographical equivalent to the diff^erential calculus: because Mr. 
Pardoner thought that no young man should be obliged to do the 
pointless and socially harmful work Edward was doing at Men- 

102 



doza's, he had persuaded him to study the mathematics of aher- 
nating currents; because music was his own passion he had talked 
about the mathematics of harmonics ; because it was too early to set 
off for the dance; because Edward did not want to think about Doris; 
because he had always felt at peace and quite safe in his uncle's 
house ; because the positive nature of his aunt's affection for him gave 
him confidence and a wish to shine in her eyes; because the flowers 
and scent of the two great bird-cherries were pleasant to him and 
reassuring; for these and countless other reasons of which he knew 
nothing, he was able, for an hour, to concentrate his whole attention 
on the small problem of his Uncle Walter's bad wireless set. 

It is important not to give the impression that the small discovery, 
or rather innovation, which Edward made, was really important : his 
innovation could have been made at any moment by any one of 
thousands of electrical engineers, fitters or designers in the industry ; 
that it was not is largely due to the rigidity which results from mass- 
production. Or it could have been made by any one of thousands of 
amateurs who made the construction of radio and television sets their 
hobby. Sooner or later someone would have hit upon the notion: it 
happened to be Edward, and the device became known in the busi- 
ness as the 'Tillotson feed-back', a much more efficient and self- 
adjusting combination of inductances, resistances and capacities for 
making use of estabhshed feed-back techniques. That evening, and at 
intervals during the night, at the dance, driving home, in bed, 
Edward worked the thing out in his head and on scraps of paper. 
There was a point, after he had left Eileen at her cottage — and if 
Figgis had not still been up and about she and Edward would have 
made love and he would have forgotten the whole thing — when it 
became what Mr. Pardoner had once recommended to him, day- 
dreaming to some purpose, a means of making himself important. 
Before leaving the subject, let it be repeated that there was nothing 
brilliant in his discovery, nothing calling for great insight or intui- 
tion or intellect, just momentarily very keen observation and a flash 
of luck. If nothing but the improvement of quality in sound repro- 
duction had resulted, the Tillotson feed-back would never have 
become important, never have borne a name, his name; as it hap- 
pened, the contrivance had a bearing on electronic pulse-shaping 
circuits: that is, on what nobody had then ever heard of: radar. 

Edward left the house at about half past seven in daylight gently 
softening into gloaming. The tall masts of bird-cherry cooling the 
night with their whiteness, stood sharp against the green glow above 

103 



the declining sun. The evening smelt faintly of almonds. It occurred 
to him to stop at Eileen's to see if she had set off. Figgis was standing 
in his garden staring at his pear-tree, perhaps because he enjoyed 
the beauty of the blossom, more likely because it was his one achieve- 
ment and its contemplation gratified him. The principal thing about 
Figgis, his distinction, was that he looked like a primitive, almost a 
prehistoric man. Not that he had an animal crouch or a salient 
brow-ridge or a flat nose. On the contrary, the great nose jutted from 
his bony, skull-like face under an intellectual-looking brow and 
between watery blue, candid eyes. No ; there was a sort of unpolished, 
unfinished look about him, something, as it were, experimental, 
awkward, shambling; one could have understood it if God had 
decided to pull him to pieces and start again. Edward said, 'Good 
evening, Figgis.' Friendly, Figgis grunted and smiled. It did not 
occur to Edward to call him Mister Figgis, but the omission was not 
due to class distinction: he had been universally called Figgis since 
the memory of man runneth not the contrary. There was something 
about him which made Arthur, or any other familiar name, in- 
appropriate. In fact he came to be called Figgis by all but his mother 
even in his own family. The old people said that his mother was the 
only person who had ever managed to be fond of Figgis, in her 
impatient, snappish way; she used to tell her young friend — who was 
now Mrs. Goldup-at-the-Plough and very old indeed — that though 
Arthur wasn't much of a scholar there was no harm in him only he 
was a bit slow-like. Whatever she might say it was a trial and a shame 
to the Figgises, who were known as the Figgises of Figgis Hill, to 
have a semi-idiot in the family. Artisan-smallholders for forty genera- 
tions, they all had the same pallor, the same rotten teeth colourless 
eyes and pale tow hair ; but the rest of them had all their wits. 

'How are things?' Edward said. Figgis shook his head and said 
that they were 'No better'. Neither question nor answer had refer- 
ence to his health or wealth, but to the only thing which closely 
engaged his attention besides Eileen, whom he adored in watchful 
and blind silence, and his pear-tree: an entirely imaginary lawsuit 
with his brother. It was Figgis's belief that when their father died he 
had left the 'Carpenters and Undertakers' half of the family business 
to the elder brother, as well as the house; but that he had left the 
family cherry orchard, twenty acres, to him, Arthur Figgis; and that 
his brother had 'made away with' the will. For years, despite his 
mother's assurances, and encouraged by the gipsy woman he had 
married, Figgis had believed this. From time to time, emerging from 

104 



his massive and ponderous tranquillity, he would go up to Figgis's 
Hill and make a scene of frightening, dull violence. It was his mother 
who, not long before she died and left him her only little bit of 
property, the cottage, found a means to quiet him and prevent his 
brother, a very angry and ill-natured man, from bringing the police 
into a family quarrel. She persuaded the solicitor who had charge of 
her own family's business to pretend that he had started a lawsuit to 
get Figgis his 'rights'. It became customary to ask him after the 
progress of this suit. Figgis was a patient man, he felt that something 
was being done, he understood, as if by inheritance, that the law's 
delays might easily exceed a man's lifetime. It was long since he had 
gone up to the family holding and abused his brother and told him, 
as he told everyone in the public bar of the Plough, that he would get 
no good of his cheating. 

While Figgis and Edward exchanged civilities Eileen came round 
from behind the back of the house pushing her old bicycle. Her father 
at once fixed his attention on her: he had done so since her birth, as 
if he could not keep believing in her existence without frequent 
verification. Yet he knew nothing about her goings on. Edward called 
out to Eileen that he had thought she might like to come to the dance 
in the car with him. 

* * * 

It was only eleven o'clock when Eileen and Edward came out of 
the rather wretched Toc-H hut where the Cottesden dances were 
held. He had danced all but one dance with her; that she had given 
to Jerry Tuff who 'looked in' for long enough to enable both of 
them to wonder what on earth they had once had in common. 
Edward said, 'What do you want to do now ?' 

'Go home.' 

'It's a fine night. What about a drive?' 

'Not tonight, Ted. I don' feel quite meself.' 

'All right.' 

He drove slowly to her cottage. There was a nearly full moon and 
he could see the primroses like new shillings charitably scattered 
along the banks under the hedges, and the ghostly white of wild 
cherry-blossom held high above the still leafless coppices. As they 
came in sight of Figgis's cottage they saw that a window still showed 
lights — the raw, pale yellow of a paraflin pressure lamp. Eileen said, 
' 'E's still up. Don't you start nothing with him still about.' 'AH 
right, all right,' Edward said, sulkily. 

'Not like him to sit up,' she added, and, after a silence, 'It's the car.' 

IOC 



The car?' 

* 'S right,' she said, without further explanation, leaving Edward 
to solve the riddle. They had hardly stopped when the door of the 
cottage opened and Figgis appeared, holding up a lamp. He did not 
come out. Eileen, getting out of the car, said, 'Come in tomorrow. 
G'night.' 

'I'm going to Maidstone in the morning. Want to come ?' 

'Can't. Come in on y'way back.' 

Edward had decided to go as far as Maidstone to be sure of getting 
the radio components he needed for his experiment on his uncle's 
wireless set. He did not set oif early but waited until his aunt was 
well into her work; otherwise she would have reorganized her day 
and gone with him. He was willing to take her any other day, but 
he wanted to keep his appointment with Eileen. Wounded and 
angered by Doris's failure to be in fact what she was in his private 
fiction, he wanted to be revenged on her. Starved of her, he was 
physically uneasy and after several hours of dancing with Eileen it 
was easier than ever to make the substitution. 

Driving back from Maidstone towards Eileen's Edward suddenly 
remembered that it was Saturday, and moreover Easter Saturday. 
Figgis would not be out at work. He felt resentful and had an impulse 
to drive straight back to his uncle's. But then he thought that Eileen 
might come out with him : they could go to the beechwoods behind 
Figgis's Hill, on the Stouridge Back. 

Curious to see what the new owner had done with the old house 
called Mulberry Trees, he made a detour. He saw McFadden as he 
drove slowly past, a tall, very dark man with a cadaverous face, who 
stopped walking behind his motor-mower to return Edward's stare. 
But as he came level with the second ancient mulberry-tree, propped 
up by iron posts, he caught a glimpse of Figgis drawing out a seed- 
drill in the kitchen garden. Then the high brick wall hid him. But he 
was there, he was not at his own house. Edward began to drive fast. 
* * ♦ 

Eileen was making a cake when he walked in through the open 
door. Crowded into the hundred square feet of the room which 
served her and her father as kitchen and sitting-room, drawing-room, 
dining-room, study and ofhce and pantry, were an old cooking range, 
a deal table, two battered upholstered arm-chairs, two cupboards, a 
sink with a spout and pump-handle over it. The water came from a 
deep well in the yard where Figgis's lean hens moulted on cinders 
decorated with cabbage stalks.The range had been stoked to heat the 

1 06 



oven and the room was insufferably hot. When Edward complained 
Eileen said, 'Take your coat off, then.' He did so, and caught hold of 
her as she came round the table and she shook him off and said, 
'Don't muck me about. I got this cake to get in the oven.' 

He sat down and watched her. This domesticity was new to him, 
and offensive; it denied what Eileen was supposed to be. There is a 
complacent respectability about any woman at work with a needle 
or kitchen-gear which is hostile to our hopes of her as unvirtuous. 
He took off his coat and tie and unbuttoned his collar and sat 
there in Figgis's broken arm-chair and watched her, exasperated, 
until she put the cake in the oven and dusted off her hands, glancing 
at the old alarm-clock which ticked noisily on one corner of the 
table. Smugly, she said, 'You s'll have a taste in an hour,' and began 
fumbling with the strings of her old, torn apron. Symbol of house- 
wifely chastity, Edward was glad to see it coming off, and when she 
had trouble with the knot said, 'Let me.' With an air of provocative 
obedience she came and stood with her back to him. He untied the 
apron and threw it on to the table and clasping his hands in front of 
her waist, pulled her down on to his knees. 

They sat clasped mouth to mouth and Edward was beginning to 
be very excited when there was a heavy crunching of the cinders 
which formed the path to the door and a ruhng-class voice, female, 
said, 'Is anyone at home?' Eileen jumped up and went towards the 
unlatched door which Edward had pulled to when he came in. 
Edward stood up and crossed to the window, where he would be 
out of sight, and looked out at the hens stupidly scratching at the 
cinders long scratched barren of anything edible. From time to time 
one of them would stop scratching and apply an eye to the close 
examination of the spoil with that squinting, sharply legal air of 
their kind. Raised above them by a plank on two oil-drums was a 
long hutch roughly made of orange-boxes in which Figgis kept his 
ferrets. Behind him Edward heard the cultured stridency of the 
voice which had interrupted them, saying something about Figgis 
using his vote on Monday. Eileen kept saying, 'Well, I don't know 
Fm sure.' 'Tett is the name to vote for,' the voice insisted, 'Tett. 
Will you remind your father ?' 

'Well, I don't know Fm sure.' 

*F11 leave this leaflet. You can read it to your father. Fm sure he'll 
be most interested. Good afternoon.' 

They observed a prudent silence of one minute and then Edward 
said, 'Who was it ?' 

107 



*The old cow from up at Roon Manor. Ma Trouncer.' 

'Oh, her. Funny we never heard the car.' 

'She gets round on 'er bicycle.' 

Edward glanced at the leaflet Eileen had put down on the table. 
It said, Isaac Tett— YOUR Man on the COUNCIL. Eileen said, 
'Them Trouncers do a lot of politics as they call it. Can't see that they 
get anything out of it, meself. The colonel's all right but I can't do 
with 'er.' 

Edward gave Eileen a cigarette and took one himself and rolled the 
leaflet into a spill to light them from the fire. 'Well, damn her soul 
for busting in,' he said. 'You tell your father to vote for the other 
chap, whoever he is.' 

'Vote? Him? Don' be so soft!' 

It was true that Figgis would never vote. He had an idea that to do 
so was to make some dangerous concession to them, to yield himself 
up to them. This was the same suspicion as inspired his attitude to 
'the stamp'. The stamp was National Insurance. If, wild im- 
probability, he had ever had a political policy it would have been 
that nobody ought to have to have National Insurance. He did not 
know what it was: it was just 'the stamp', to pay for which some of 
his money was taken away. It was some kind of oppression. Like the 
vote. If, near election times, someone who had forgotten his views 
asked him how he was going to vote, he would grin and shake his 
head and say, 'You won't catch me in there,' meaning the polling 
booth which, sinister fact, was watched over by the police. 

Ardour cooled, Edward said, 'I'd better go home.' 

'Come in t'night.' 

'Won't he be here?' 

'Sat'd'y night's his pub night, you know that.' 

Once a week her father sat from seven to ten in the bar of the 
Plough, paid his twopence towards 'the club' and drank two half- 
pints of bitter. 'Half past seven, then,' Edward said. 

Back at his uncle's he had the place to himself. Uncle Walter, 
working again, was in the greenhouses. Edward found him and for a 
few minutes helped him pick side-shoots off tomato plants, and then 
slipped away and went into the house and took the radio chassis out 
of its box. He set about fixing the new components in place and 
soldering the connections. It did not take him long, but for half an 
hour he fiddled with a trimming condenser, trying to find the best 
value. His aunt, who had cycled to Goudhurst, came in with her 
shopping basket just as he was resoldering a bad joint and wanted 

1 08 



to know what he was doing. 'Wait and hear/ he said. She brought 
him a cup of tea as he was switching on the set for testing. Tone and 
volume were both sharply improved. Once again he had been extra- 
ordinarily lucky: calculation in such cases is apt to be imperfect and 
the final result achieved by trial and error. He had achieved a very 
nearly optimum result at the first attempt. In all the years of elec- 
tronics which followed, that only happened once again. His aunt 
said, 'Why, whatever've you done to it ? It's not the same machine at 
all! Real twopence coloured! I'll fetch your uncle.' 

She had a large hand-bell for calling her husband and she went 
out on to the doorstep and clanged it noisily. Presently Walter 
Tillotson came stumping across the yard and Aunt Sarah said, 'Listen 
to what Teddy's done to your old wireless.' 

A pianist was playing Chopin studies and they listened; the way 
Edward's aunt looked at him, you'd have thought he was playing 
them himself. Uncle Walter said, rather suspiciously, 'What did you 
do to it?' Edward tried to explain, but he did not understand, only 
listened patiently and said at last, 'Isn't there money in it?' Edward 
said he did not know but he shouldn't think so. It did not, in fact, 
occur to him that what he had done had not been done before, so that 
what saved his small triumph from being short-lived was his aunt's 
old habit of writing a letter to his father whenever Edward was 
staying with her. She had done so when Edward was a child because 
she thought that his father, deprived of him, would be worrying; she 
judged other people by herself. She still continued to write the letter 
because it had become established custom. It was her rule to fill two 
sheets of the flimsy, lined paper which she used. She wrote this ritual 
letter on the Saturday night — Edward's uncle did not approve of 
letter writing on Sundays — and, as Edward discovered later, she told 
his father how clever he had been with the wireless set. If the 
Tillotson feed-back was useful to our war effort during the years 
which followed, the nation owes its gratitude to Edward's Aunt 
Sarah. 

After tea Edward said he was going for a nice long walk, and he 
reached Figgis's cottage by half past seven. Neither Eileen nor he 
had any doubt about what he had come for. But they did not go 
straight to her room. She had the cake, already cut for her father's 
tea, on the table, and she cut him a slice. It was a mild evening, the 
doors and windows were shut, the range was still hot, and as the 
room was always dark at evening, Eileen had lit the pressure lamp. 
It was e\en hotter in there than it had been in the afternoon. Outside, 

109 



two blackbirds whistled sweetly back and forth across the golden 
glow of the evening garden. Edward ate his cake and pulled Eileen 
down into the chair with him. She put her tongue into his mouth. 
He discovered that she had nothing on under her blouse and started 
to unbutton it. They both sweated. She undid his shirt and began to 
stroke his chest. Frantic to be touching every point of her body with 
every point of his, he pulled the blouse off and threw it on the floor 
and started kissing her breasts. She shut her eyes and her breath, fast 
and shallow, blew tiny bubbles at the corner of her lips. Neither of 
them heard the sound of her father's approach. One moment they 
were alone, not simply alone with each other, but each in the selfish 
isolation of intensely pleasurable sensation. The next, Figgis was in 
the doorway, enormous, looming, stooping a little forward with his 
great bony hands hanging idly in front of him, and the harsh light 
of the lamp making his face a composition of dark-edged blocks of 
light and shadow, an impressionist daub. Eileen got to her feet, 
staggered, covered herself by crossing her arms over her breasts, and 
backed away towards the window. There was nothing reassuring in 
Figgis's silent immobility, and she began to whimper. Edward stood 
up, buttoning his shirt with shaking hands and, idiotically, said, 'It's 
time I was pushing off.' That seemed to release Figgis, he made a 
sudden movement, a lurching rush, with his mouth open but utter- 
ing no sound, no reproaches, no abuse, only breathing so loud that 
he seemed to be snoring. 

The only time Edward had ever been frightened by a dog was by 
one which didn't bark, but simply ran straight at him with an extra- 
ordinary air of hostile purpose, its mouth open and its Hps curled 
back from its teeth, drooling. It was like that with Figgis, but 
terrible ; ridiculous, too, with Edward dodging round the table trying 
to draw Figgis into the room and get himself out of it, but for Figgis's 
silence and the bestial set of his white face. In the intensity of his 
concentration on Edward he was some time realizing what obstacle 
it was which stood between him and the consummation of his passion 
of hate; but when he did he caught hold of the table and sent it 
crashing into the wall. The cake fell off on to the floor between them. 
Figgis had Edward now with his back to the hot range : he could feel 
its heat. He had a brief vision of his Uncle Walter's hand in the 
fire. Not to attack Figgis, but to save himself from the fire, he lunged 
forward, put his foot into the cake, and slipped as Figgis charged at 
him with reaching hands. Edward sprawled far under them, his own 
hands out to save himself, and his shoulder striking Figgis's leg a 

no 



violent blow just below the knee as he fell. That checked Figgis's 
impetus well below his centre of balance and he went over. Edward 
heard the dead, flat sound — chunk — of the man's head against the 
iron of the range and he heard Eileen scream as he scrabbled himself 
upright. He experienced a passionate wish that she would be silent, 
not draw attention to this indecency. He had one idea, to get out, 
and was making for the door, then saw Figgis out of the side of his 
eye, still a sprawled heap. 

Edward stopped and turned and saw Eileen with one hand over 
her mouth and her eyes very wide, staring, looking at her .father on 
the floor. He said, *For Christ's sake put something on.' He looked 
round for her blouse, picked it up off the floor beside the chair and 
tossed it to her. She started to cry as she put it on and he went down 
on his knees beside Figgis. He had no idea what to do, he was help- 
less, to him Figgis seemed as massively immovable as a mountain. 
The burnt cut on his forehead extended from temple to temple. 
With no conviction Edward said, 'Water; he's unconscious.' *Get 
out,' Eileen said, hiccuped and repeated, *Get out. He'll kill 
you.' 

Edward was rising to pump some water himself when Eileen 
screamed again and he turned on her sharply to silence her and saw 
a man standing in the doorway: the new man at Mulberry Trees, 
Mr. McFadden. He said, 'Good God, what's happened?' and 
advanced into the room, looking at Eileen and saying, 'You'll be Miss 
Figgis. I was to fetch your father and his ferrets, we were to work 
the old warren by moonlight.' Before he had finished this explanation 
he was kneeling beside Figgis, opening one eye, touching the un- 
bleeding cut, then putting a hand inside his jacket. 'He had a fall,' 
Edward said. 'He's unconscious.' 

Mr. McFadden looked briefly and without indulgence into 
Edward's face. 'The man's dead,' he said. 



Edward's McFadden week, as he called it, began with Eileen's 
weeping suddenly becoming noisy, a childish howling and sobbing 
interrupted by one hysterical cry of 'You done it, you!' which 
directed McFadden's eyes to him as he rose from his kneeling 
position beside the body, and which raised the intensity of Edward's 



III 



fear to the point at which he felt it as physical sickness. His hands 
became very cold. McFadden looked at him neutrally but with 
attention. He was a sallow man with matt black hair and blue 
eyes. There was comfort in the absence of excitement from his 
face. 

Edward had not known McFadden; then for one week he knew 
him with an intimacy which originated in the violence with which 
their acquaintance began; then, excepting in his writings — he was 
important enough always to be given a by-line in his paper — Edward 
ceased to know him. He set the tone at once when Edward said dully 
that they had better get a doctor and the police, by saying, 'Never be 
in a hurry to call either, man.' Half his remarks ended with the word 
man, but not as some Welshmen's do, or some Anglo-Indians'. His 
man was not emphatic or ejaculatory; it was a word of address, a 
vocative shifted to the end of the sentence. For his speech, in the 
soft and pretty accent of Edinburgh, was nearly always didactic : he 
was a man called upon by other people's fecklessness to give in- 
structions. 

From Edward's green face he looked away and slowly round the 
room. Fixing his eyes on Eileen, who had stopped crying, he said, 
'First we might tidy up a bit,' and as if he had reproached her with 
the state of the room she did actually make a move to lay hold of the 
table and then, seeing her father's body, started to cry again, but 
quietly this time. It was McFadden who pulled the table back into 
the middle of the room. Later, it must have been the next day or the 
day after, when Edward asked him, 'How did you know you oughtn't 
to have left things as they were for the police to see and draw con- 
clusions ?' McFadden understood him, understood that he was asking 
how he knew that Edward had not really, despite Eileen's cry, 'done 
it'. His answer was, 'How do we ever know anything important ? Not 
by thinking it out. We know, and half our troubles come from 
pretending we don't. And in any case I wouldn't' ve rushed things, 
man.' 

'What do you mean ?' 

'Only that the living are always more worth thinking about than 
the dead. You cannot help the dead, man.' 

That was an assurance which was only too welcome at the time. 

It was McFadden who found the right story for the poUce, the 
story almost true, only leaving out the essential — the violent outrage 
of Figgis's obscure and powerful feelings — which was repeated at 
the inquest. Edward Tillotson had called to see Eileen Figgis; as he 

112 



was leaving Tillotson had kissed her. At that moment the deceased 
had come in and incomprehensibly (implication that a psycho- 
pathologist would have comprehended it only too horribly), made a 
violent rush at Tillotson, caught his foot in the table leg, and fallen. 
Edward saw the truth, tragic when it included the white rage of 
Figgis's outraged modesty and paternity, turned into a kind of farce 
when it was left out: picturing Figgis, the tall, ungainly, angry man 
in that knock-about accident, it was difficult not to laugh, although it 
had killed him. He was made ridiculous. Eileen's evidence was given 
sullenly, reluctantly : the bitter hostility she had fixed on Edward was 
in conflict with, was finally overcome by, her gipsy mother's training 
to lie to the men in authority; whatever was uncertain, it was sure 
that they were the enemy and you told them the truth at your peril. 
They were helped by Ernest Figgis: 'Was it true that his brother had 
sometimes been suddenly and unreasonably violent?' Tt certainly 
was.' Only Walter Tillotson, that night at tea, disagreed with the 
verdict of death by misadventure. There was, he said, no such thing: 
sudden death was always a judgement. But wasn't judgement always 
postponed until the hereafter though implied in advance by 'justi- 
fication' of the elect ? Edward asked that question to keep his mind 
off his own part in the business, succeeding in his uncle's case, but 
not in his aunt's, of course. She was offended with him and showed it. 
'Kissing that slut! She's been handled by every lout in the parish. 
I thought better of you, really I did.' 

It was Aunt Sarah's grief as well as his need to lean on someone 
since her support had been withdrawn which drew Edward to Mul- 
berry Trees every day until the formalities were over and he could 
return to London. He needed someone to whom he could keep 
saying, 'I wish there was something I could do.' 'Aye,' McFadden 
said, on the sixth or seventh repetition of this plaint, 'you'll be too 
young to accept that some things can't be mended.' The permanence 
of Figgis's death was, indeed, an atrocious novelty. Above all 
Edward wanted to exorcize the spell Eileen had put on him as 
McFadden and he were leaving the inquest and Edward went up to 
her as she came out, not exactly alone but trailing well behind her 
sour-faced uncle, and began to mutter something about how sorry he 
was; she looked at him, frozen-faced, and said, 'You done it.' And 
to McFadden Edward repeated, 'Because, you know, I did. I did 
do it.' 

'Don't be so daft, man.* 

'In a way, I did.' 

113 



*0h, in a way I'm responsible for the murder of Spain and 
Czechoslovakia. You need to cultivate a sense of proportion.' 

*I don't know how I'll live with myself!' Edward exaggerated 
wildly. McFadden looked at him out of his dark, unsmiling face, and 
said, 'You'll not know French, I doubt ?' 

*As a matter of fact, yes. Why ?' 

*A very clever Frenchman who had a lot to put up with, the 
painter Toulouse-Lautrec, had a good saying: // faut savoir se 
supporter soi-meme. You'll learn, man. I'm not denying that you've 
given yourself a weight to carry, but it's not by self-condemnation 
that most of us err.' 

* * * 

McFadden was right, of course : it did not take Edward a week to 
Uearn to bear himself. He was all right; it was Figgis who had been 
a kind of lunatic and as for Eileen, everyone knew what she was. All 
the same, the accident and its consequences loomed so enormous 
that when he returned to work at the beginning of the following 
week and Mr. Pardoner handed him an envelope containing his dis- 
missal, Edward would have attributed it to the disgrace of being 
nationally known to have kissed Eileen Figgis and killed her father 
by it, but for the fact that the envelope contained not a week's money 
but three months'. That made him ask, 'What's the reason for this, 
do you know?' 

'Economy in the department is what I was told.' 

'Queer economy,' Edward said, showing him six five-pound notes, 
two one-pound notes, and some silver. Mr. Pardoner shrugged and, 
as he had done once before, said, 'If you don't know, Tillotson, I'm 
sure I don't! I shall be sorry to lose you,' he added, 'but I shall 
not pretend that this is a bad thing for you. You're doing no good, 
here.' 

Edward went out to his own desk and called David on the house 
phone and said, 'I've been sacked. Did you know?' 

'Sacked ? Come up here at once, Edward, at once. Of course I didn't 
know.' 

He was dictating to his secretary when Edward reached his room, 
but he dismissed her. He was very white and the small muscles of 
his jaw were contracting and relaxing rhythmically as he clenched 
and unclenched his teeth. Edward showed him the note of dismissal 
and asked whether three months' pay was usual on such occasions. 

'No, of course it's not,' David said, impatiently. Edward watched 
him without indulgence: the light he saw him by was much less 

114 



bright since Mr. Tillotson's outburst; not humbly and hopefully did 
Edward wait for David to come to his defence, but righteously and 
resentfully. Without looking up, David said, *I suppose you realize 
whose fault this is ?' 

'No, but I don't believe it's mine,' Edward said, violently, repudi- 
ating the suggestion of his own conscience that you couldn't be the 
death of a man and get away with it unscathed. 

'No, it isn't yours. Excepting that you should choose your friends 
more carefully,' 

Edward saw that David meant himself and some of the wind went 
out of his sails. David got to his feet and said, 'I'll go and see my 
father.' 

'Your father?' 

It was a question but really Edward knew what he meant. He 
remembered the old man with his white hair and his noble bearing, 
and his crooked nose like a derisive comment on the rest of him, 
asking him, with that intense seriousness, whether he had known 
his son long. But David's move towards the door of his room was 
halting and at the door he turned and said, dully, 'I suppose you do 
want to stay here ?' 

'It's a job. What else can I do ?' 

He did not really feel like that : it was an answer much too old for 
his age. But he was angrily intent on making someone feel that he 
had been wronged. David said, 'Something better, I should have 
thought. I'm sure I could find you something in your own line.' 

'In short, you want me out of here, too ?' 

'Yes. That doesn't mean what you're pretending to think it means, 
Edward. Don't judge while you're angry.' 

'I'm not sure I like your kind of help,' Edward said. 

'What do you mean by that ?' 

He meant Custer-Dwyer and Doris, of course ; he wanted someone 
to blame for his loss of her, which had resulted in the death of Figgis; 
he wanted David to take the blame for Figgis's broken neck which was 
what he actually died of, the violence with which his neck was forced 
back as his head struck the iron of the range. But whatever Edward 
was feeling he could not complain in so many words that Custer- 
Dwyer had given Doris a very good job and sent her to Paris: his 
I could; but he could not. 

'In the first place,' David said, 'it was hardly my fault that Custer- 
Dwyer gave Doris a job . . .' 

'I'm not complaining of that, of course.' 

"5 



'Then of what, Edward? Do be reasonable.' 

T suppose you know what sort of woman that Mme Tisserant is ?' 

'I warned you against Custer-Dwyer. And anyway, Doris can look 
after herself I imagine.' 

'You know nothing about Doris. But anyway, if all your friends 
are like that I don't particularly want a job with any of them.' 

David returned to his desk and sat down again, his jaw muscles 
working harder than ever. He picked up a pencil and began to draw 
a geometrical doodle on a letter. There was a long silence and then 
he said, 'That man at your party, Reuben Lipschitz — I know his 
chief sound engineer, a man named James Connor.' David looked up 
at Edward and went on, 'His tastes are reassuringly — orthodox. He 
employs a staff of electricians. You would presumably have to join 
a trade union, but I suppose you would not object to that. I will see 
him tonight and . . . Get out, now, will you, Edward ? Get out. I'll 
call you tomorrow. You won't be leaving till Friday.' 

His gentle but repeated 'Get out' was like a blow in the face. 
Edward showed what he felt but David said no more, he made no 
move, and Edward had to leave him Hke that, sitting there mourn- 
fully, shading alternate squares of his doodle. 
* * * 

It was raining hard when Edward came out of the factory and 
he put the hood of the car up. The rush-hour traffic was heavy. At 
the division of northern roads in Camden Town there was a huge, 
crawling, reeking agglomeration of buses and trams, lorries, vans, 
taxis and private motor-cars, moving a few yards or stationary, with- 
out regard to the changing colours of the traffic lights. Two police- 
men, their rain-capes streaming, were going through the dance-like 
motions of traffic control, as if there were merit in empty ritual. 
Edward was in the near-side traffic lane. His car had no sidescreens, 
but the rain was vertical and not much was coming into the car. He 
stared idly at the people huddled round a bus-stop standard marked 
74B : they were waiting for the next Overbury Park bus. He suddenly 
realized that the face he Avas looking at was familiar, the face of a tall 
girl holding an umbrella over a small, neat woman. Glancing forward 
he saw that there was no danger of the traffic moving for some 
minutes, and getting out of the car he crossed to the bus stop and 
said, 'Miss Woodreeve, I have the car over there. I'm going your 
way. Let me take you and your mother home.' 

She did not hesitate: all she said was, 'Thanks, kind of you.' It 
was Mrs. Woodreeve who became nervously voluble in her thanks. 

116 



Almost as soon as Edward had them in the car, the traffic-block broke 
up and they all swept forward. In the bustle of getting them into the 
car, out of the downpour, he had put them both into the back seat. 
It was a mistake: Mrs. Woodreeve felt obliged to talk, to break at 
intervals into staccato bursts of civility. In an effort to overcome the 
rudeness of having his back to her, Edward kept leaning back towards 
her and half turning his head to answer, until at last Miss Woodreeve 
said, 'Mummy, don't talk to the driver! Either he'll put his neck out 
of joint or drive us all into a shop-front!' 

Edward laughed, and for the rest of the way they drove in silence 
excepting when Mrs. Woodreeve said, 'Are you quite sure it's not 
out of your way Mr. . . . er . . . ?' 

'Tillotson, Mummy,' Miss Woodreeve said, and, 'You're quite 
wet enough already. It isn't out of his way, is it, Mr. Tillotson ?' 

'No,' Edward said. 'Fourteen Overbury Park Road, if I remember 
rightly.' 

He pulled up at their house and jumped out of the car to open the 
door for them, so pleased with his own kindness and courtesy that 
he was intent on doing the thing really well. But he was not quick 
enough for Miss Woodreeve, who was already on the pavement and 
turning to help her mother, who at once began talking again, saying 
how kind he had been and looking at him with a slight, diffident smile 
on her small, wrinkled face. 'It's not often nowadays that people 
are so . . .' She hesitated for a word and concluded, 'considerate'. 
Frowning a little as she did so and, to express the imperfection of the 
word, she moved her half-clenched hand in a swift gesture two or 
three times back and forth at the level of her mouth. 

What happened then was remarkable: Edward saw Miss Wood- 
reeve's face not as one he had seen just once before, but as one he 
had formerly known well. For a moment he was three feet tall and 
standing clasping the high railings of an enclosure in Overbury 
Park. The kangaroo was there, and the emu. Looking at Miss Wood- 
reeve — they were of a height and their eyes on the same level — he 
said, or rather exclaimed, 'Celia!' and then put his hand to his mouth 
in embarrassment. Surprised, amused, she said, 'That's my name. 
I didn't . . .' but, in haste to explain himself, Edward interrupted 
her, 'Why was there a kangaroo in Overbury Park ? I mean, why a 
kangaroo? Did you ever wonder?' 

They stared at each other in silence under the rain. From the door 
of her house at the top of the steps Mrs. Woodreeve said, 'Do come 
in. You're getting so wet.' 

117 



'The French lady,' Celia said. 

*My mother,' Edward explained. 

He followed her up the steps and into the house, and while they 
were taking their coats off Celia was saying, * Mummy, Mr. Tillotson 
is the Uttle boy in the park, with the French mother. You remem- 
ber.' 

*I was always so sorry for that great bird,' Mrs. Woodreeve said, 
vaguely. 

'What bird. Mummy? Oh, the emu!' 

'So clumsy, and not being able to fly . . .' And then, in delayed 
surprise, 'God bless my soul, what a coincidence! I hope your 
mother is well ? Such a cheerful young woman, I remember.' 

'She's in France,' Edward said: he had developed a tone for saying 
that which put an end to questions. Both women looked at him and 
away. They went into the front room and Mrs. Woodreeve left them 
to make tea. Celia said, 'What do you do now ?' 

'I was working for Mendoza's, the cigarette people. I got the sack 
today.' 

'Bad luck. What will you do now ?' 

'I don't know. What do you do ?' 

'Work, you mean ? I'm on the women's page of the Messenger.' 

'Then I know a colleague of yours, Angus McFadden.' 

'Oh, he's a great man. I don't know him except to stand aside for 
when he walks down a corridor.' 

Edward didn't believe it: he didn't believe this girl ever stood 
aside for anyone. He said, 'Do you like it?' 

'It's a living. What made you suddenly remember me?' 

At the time Edward did not know the answer: it was only later, 
dwelling on the scene, that he realized it had been that curious gesture 
of her mother's. So he said, 'I recognized you.' 

'But you can't have!' she laughed, 'we were only about eight — or 
I was. I think you were six.' 

It gave him an excuse to stare at her face : there was a golden glow 
not only to her hair but to her skin, an elegance in the poise of her 
head, the slenderness of her neck which, certainly, can hardly have 
been apparent in a child of eight. There was that in Edward's stare 
which made her flush, which made him flush. He said, 'Well, there 
it is. I hope your father is better ?' 

'Sometimes. He has bad days. More of them lately. As usual, the 
doctors don't know what's the matter with him.' 

Mrs. Woodreeve came in with the tea, then. Edward did not know 

ii8 



what they talked about. Presently he said he must go and, at the door, 
Celia, hesitating for a moment, said, *If you find out why there was a 
kangaroo, do let me know.' 

*I will. Are you on the phone here ?' 

*I don't live here. My digs are on the phone.' 

'Then may I have the number, please ?' 

She gave it to him and he wrote it down. 

*But I'm here week-ends,' she said. 

* * * 

He had little time for investigating the provenance of the Over- 
bury Park kangaroo in the next few days. He had not seen his- father 
when he got home the night before, but Mr. Tillotson was waiting 
for him this time, coming out into the hall as soon as he heard 
Edward's key in the door and greeting him with, 'Well, I hope you're 
satisfied. A pretty mess you've made.' 

For that evening only Edward was bitter against his aunt for 
betraying him. If she had not written him a second letter his father 
would probably never have heard about the accident. Only one 
national newspaper reported it and it was not the one he read. After- 
wards he realized that by her own lights Aunt Sarah had no alter- 
native. As to his father's greeting that evening, Edward precipitated 
the row which followed by saying angrily, *0h, you don't know the 
half of it. I've got the sack, too.' And when Mr. Tillotson seized on 
that to make it another clause in the indictment, Edward infuriated 
him by saying that he was being inconsistent : had he not wanted him 
out of David Mendoza's influence ? As it was, David, he said, was 
getting him another job. 

'What job?' 

'With a firm owned by your friend Lipschitz.' 

'Doing what?' 

'Sound engineer. I'm to see a man called James Connor.' 

'Rubbish! Mendoza's just fobbing you off. What do you know 
about sound engineering ?' 

It was Maud Olantigh, trying to restore the peace, who gave 
Edward an answer not only to his father but, in the event, to Connor 
when the sound engineer said, 'What do you think you can do for us, 
Mr. Tillotson? We don't carry passengers in this outfit.' That was 
a couple of days later. All Maud did was to take Aunt Sarah's first 
letter out of her bag and say, 'There's this, dear. We must be fair to 
Edward. Your sister-in-law says their wireless isn't the same set.' 
On the face of it, a ridiculously feeble argument, as ]\Ir. Tillotson at 

119 



once pointed out. 'Don't talk like a fool, Maud. Do you imagine 
amateur pottering with a wireless set fits a man to work for Lip- 
schitz .'' You don't know what you're talking about.' 

That was an argument powerful enough to silence her at once: 
there was a convention that Maud did not understand about practical 
things, business things ; she was the artistic one, it was Mr. Tillotson 
who was the practical man. 

Edward had been made bitterly angry during the row not by what 
his father said, but by the circumstance that he could see both his 
father's face and his own, side by side, in the looking-glass over the 
hearth. He kept catching glimpses of their two faces and he saw that 
he was very like his fathei , and it made him feel first ridiculous, dis- 
armed, rather as if he were trying to argue while tied in an undignified 
posture ; and then furiously angry. It was not only that he saw that he 
resembled his father, and that in his opinion Mr. Tillotson's face 
was a woundingly coarse caricature of his own ; Edward began to feel 
areas of his face falling into positions and making expressions which 
felt what his father's looked like. It was almost as if he, darling, 
smooth, young Edward, were being forced into Mr. Tillotson's 
corrupt old carcass with its rotten teeth and wrinkles. And the idea 
that as he aged he would, in very fact, grow more and more like his 
father, was inexpressibly disgusting to Edward, so that for some 
hours he hated him intensely. Mr. Tillotson could not understand the 
consequent bitter violence of some of the things his son said, but he 
sensed, with real grief, that there was much worse trouble between 
them than a disagreement over Edward's morals and conduct. At last 
he rose and said quietly, T can't go on with this. I've done my best 
for you. You're on your own now. Good night.' He went out of the 
room leaving Edward with Maud, who was in tears. She said, 'He 
doesn't mean it, Edward.' 

'As if I cared! As soon as I get a new job I'm getting out of here.' 

'You'll think better of it, dear.' 

Edward did not think better of it. He would not have done so even 
had he known that the next day his father telephoned Reuben 
Lipschitz, so that though Edward owed the promptness with which 
Connor offered him a job to his own explanation of what he had 
done to his Uncle Walter's wireless raised to a much higher power of 
prestige by language as technical as he could muster, and diagrams 
with calculations as slick as he could make them, he probably 
owed his reception, after that initially brisk question which was 
put for form's sake, and the goodwill with which Connor listened 

1 20 



to him, as much to his father's interference as to David's introduc- 
tion. But Edward did not know that; it would have made no dif- 
ference if he had known it. Because of his father he had seen an 
image of himself which was not of his own making. He had to get 
away from that. 



121 



PART TWO 



Two weeks after being started in the research department of the 
Kinesound Corporation where, under Connor, he was put to the 
devising of pulse-shaping circuits and saw a cathode ray oscilloscope 
for the first time in his life, Edward moved into lodgings within 
walking distance of his work. He had no idea what this work was for. 
Connor had told him not to talk about it: it involved, he said, an 
industrial secret. 'And remember, you're on probation; on the face 
of it, a chap who's acquired his knowledge as casually as you have is 
not likely to be much use to us. But Mr. Lipschitz says he'd rather 
have a man with flair, whatever that may be, than a trained scientist. 
It's up to you, Tillotson.' 

Doris did not return from Paris, nor did he hear from her. And 
when he wrote, she did not answer his letters. For a few weeks he 
lived a curiously lonely Ufe. His landlady, Mrs. Campion, was a lean, 
brisk, foul-mouthed and very good-natured woman with a cigarette 
permanently sticking out of her face. She read science-fiction and 
popular psychology and was a member of the Communist Party. 
She said, 'Bring your friends in, all sexes and ages, and make as 

much f g noise as you like, see? We don't mind.' But Edward 

had no friends. David had telephoned and taken him out to dinner; 
Edward had talked about Doris until David, white and pinched, said, 
'For God's sake give that slut a rest, there's a good chap,' and 
Edward, unable to hit him in Flaubert's^ had remained sullenly silent 
for the rest of the meal and, outside in the street later, turned his 
back on his friend and walked away, and thereafter would neither 
speak to him on the telephone nor answer his letters. 

Edward was no longer really suffering because he had lost Doris. 
He had great difficulty in summoning up an image of her, he seemed 
to have forgotten what she looked like. But he had been thwarted of 
her by other people, by Custer-Dwyer and that damned Lesbian 
partner of his, and when he thought of this he was morosely angry 
and discovered that he was capable of hatred. And apart from his 
work there was nothing to take him out of himself. He had breakfast 
in his lodgings, and lunch in the factory canteen, where the only 

124 



man who showed friendHness was a colleague in the research 
department named Adam Olby, who tried to persuade Edward to 
come with him to meetings of the Labour Party; and of the trade 
union, which Edward had been obliged to join. But Edward was not 
capable of taking any interest in the generalities which politicians 
deal in: political talk seemed to him perfectly meaningless and often 
ridiculous He did take Adam Olby home to his lodgings one evening. 
Adam was on the extreme left of his Party, and got on very well with 
Mrs. Campion, and Edward was obliged to listen to them for several 
hours prophesying an immediate future of great unpleasantness and 
a remote future of improbable comfort. 

He ate his evening meal at a restaurant called the Fortified Flour 
Company, almost opposite his lodgings. It remained open late to 
receive the custom of railway workers from the neighbouring loco- 
motive maintenance depot. He liked it because it had waitresses : not 
that they were pretty; all three were old, with pendant, yellow faces, 
and the tired, timid kindness and heavy, plodding gait of defeated 
women. But at least you sat at a table and they brought you your 
food : it was not a cafeteria, not like the canteen ; it was shabby, and 
even rather dirty, but unlike the new, clean Kinesound canteen, it was 
not squalid. 

Edward went to the Fortified Flour restaurant for lunch one 
Saturday. Nobody but the waitress ever talked to him there. The 
only other customers that day were two old railwaymen who sat in 
a corner and played dominoes with their caps on. When the waitress 
brought him his poached egg on welsh and milky coffee she saw him 
staring at them and said, *You mustn't mind about them not taking 
their hats off. There was a lady come in here, very superior class of 
lady, and when I bring 'er her cuppa tea she says why don't those 
men take their hats off indoors, Miss ? You could see it wasn't what 
she'd been used to but as I told her, I says, being uniform it's not 
the same.' 

Edward knew what the superior class of lady had been feeling: 
undistinguished. She had needed some tribute to her worth to set 
her up. So did he. He finished his meal and walked to the cul-de-sac 
where he kept the Sunbeam, and drove to Overbury Park to pay his 
weekly duty call. His father was out. Maud asked him to go for a 
walk in the park with her, and Edward agreed. The crocuses were 
fading and wilting, and under the cedar tree some dafibdils were in 
flower. The sunlight hardened the wind-rippled surface of the pond. 
A blue and green drake stood at the water's edge, prodding under 

125 



his wing with his long, flat bill. When Edward and Maud were pass- 
ing the enclosure where the kangaroo had lived, Edward saw that 
it had been dug into raw-looking deep trenches and earthworks 
which Maud said were air-raid shelters. Some dejected-looking men 
were doing something to these ominous diggings with ordinary 
gardening spades. A park-keeper, who had a white moustache, over- 
heard Maud's explanation and said, 'AH them acres of good turf. 
It's a shame.' Edward suddenly remembered the question he had put 
to Celia Woodreeve, whom he had not seen again since he had 
rescued her and Mrs. Woodreeve from the rain. He said to the 
keeper, 'You remember there used to be a kangaroo and an emu, 
here.' 

'That's right, they died,' the old man said, like his colleague when 
Edward had walked in this same place after learning that Doris had 
gone to Paris. Edward said, 'Why ?' 

'Course of nature, sir.' 

'No. I mean how did you come to have two such unusual animals 
in the first place ?' 

The park-keeper told him and Edward suddenly had a new 
purpose. He took Maud home and drove to Overbury Park Road, 
through the tunnel. When he stood waiting for the door to the 
Woodreeves' house to be opened his heart began to beat heavily, 
although there was no ostensible reason to be excited. Mrs. Wood- 
reeve came to the door and said at once, 'Why, Mr Tillotson, isn't 
it? You'll have come to see Ceha, but I'm alone in the house. She 
will be disappointed.' 

She asked him in and he stayed listening to her nervous talk for a 
few minutes. He realized that the curvature of the little finger on the 
hand with which she made the characteristic gesture which had taken 
his mind back to his sixth year, was not natural. The hand was 
deformed by arthritis. He asked for a piece of paper and wrote a note 
for Celia saying that he had solved the kangaroo mystery and leaving 
her his telephone number. 

Just before lunch-time on the following Monday Connor sent for 
him and said, 'You're to take these blue-prints and go to the 
Dorchester at once. Ask for Mr. Orage, they'll send you up. Reuben 
Lipschitz is with this man Orage — Bayard Orage. They've got to a 
point where Reuben's out of his depth — technicalities. You'll do the 
explaining.' 

Edward glanced at the blue-prints and saw that he would be able 
to explain them; they were partly his own work, they incorporated a 

126 



refinement of his device — now known as the TFB — into a video- 
circuit, for the first time. He said, 'Who's Bayard Orage ?' 

'North American Electronics.' It was a great name and Edward, 
quoting from one of Wallace Smith's novels which Maud had lent 
him, said, 'We're getting up in the bucks.' Connor laughed, and told 
him something about Orage's career and Edward was impressed. 

Edward took the blue-prints and set off for the Dorchester. Just 
before he reached it he had occasion to go down to the underground 
public lavatory at the corner of Beacon Passage. There were two 
other men down there, a big, round-faced man in a bowler hat and — 
Edward flushed — Major Custer-Dwyer. As soon as the major saw 
Edward, he was all over him. He offered his hand which Edward 
found he could not refuse. He said that Doris had been 'asking after' 
him, and that she was doing wonders in Paris, and that they were 
going to bring her home soon as the major was sure that war would 
be declared any day now, 'not but what the girl will be quite as safe 
over there, as over here, if the Boche starts anything he'll never get 
past the Maginot Line.' And, 'How about coming round to my flat 
for a drink ?' Custer-Dwyer added. 

He was still being his breezy, not his soldierly, self, when, sud- 
denly, surprisingly, and confusingly, there was this other man, the 
bowler-hatted man, pushing in, tipping his hat to Edward and saying, 
'Is this man importuning you, sir?' 

Edward looked at him and if he had kept on looking at him he 
might have said, 'No, certainly not.' But, in astonishment, he turned 
to Custer-Dwyer and the major's face had become old, and his 
mouth was shaking : he was grey, flabby, and repulsive ; and far from 
rousing pity in Edward's heart, this made him resentful, and seeking 
to sustain his anger and make it seem 'reasonable', he remembered 
that Custer-Dwyer and his associate had robbed him of Doris, the 
Doris who was certainly his own, since he had made her. The bowler- 
hatted man, who was, of course, a police-officer — the place was under 
observation as a notorious beat for male prostitutes — was still talk- 
ing, explaining that Edward's proper course was to complain that 
'this man' had been soliciting. 'We've been keeping our eye on him, 
sir. But what can you do if the public won't co-operate ?' 

Edward had a Kinesound card in his pocket. He took it out, with 
a feeling of violence, an almost malevolent satisfaction, as if it had 
been a dagger instead of a bit of cardboard, and turning his face 
away from Custer-Dwyer, he gave it to the policeman and said, 
'You can get me at this address. But I won't charge him.' 

127 



'We'll do that, sir. It's your evidence we want.' 

Edward nodded and hurried up the stairs, conscious of Custer- 
Dwyer's eyes full of horror, of that almost vulgarly 'distinguished' 
face collapsed into pouches and folds, and of the voice, rising to 
shrillness, crying out, 'It's a lie, I tell you I've known him for 
months . . .' 

Up in Orage's suite a few minutes later, and even within the loom 
of the gigantic American himself who in a kind of courteous self- 
deprecation took inches off his great height by a stoop which made 
him seem to hover over his interlocutor, Edward was still confused, 
shrinking from his own self as from an unwanted companion who 
had done, and done publicly, something monstrous. Reuben Lip- 
schitz darted about the room, never able to keep still, saying, 'This 
boy's bright. Bayard. You'll see, it's like I told you. What does he 
know? Nothing! But the ideas come when he calls!' Reuben made 
beckoning motions with his arms. Orage smiled at Edward, a smile 
that said, 'Cute, ain't he?* Edward's hands were shaking from his 
encounter with Custer-Dwyer and the police : Orage, taking this for 
modesty and nervousness, put his questions gently, but in terms and 
with an appreciation at a glance of the whole circuit which, reminding 
Edward that this man had made his name first as an electrician and 
only secondarily in business, rising to the heights with a sort of 
casual ease, caused him to make an effort at self-control. It was 
apparently successful: twice Orage said, 'Darned ingenious.' And 
at the end, 'I like it. I Hke it very much.' Then, rolling the blue- 
prints, 'What about a drink?' Edward glanced at Reuben Lipschitz 
who shook his head violently and Edward said, 'Thank you, sir, but 
I must go.' 'I hope we'll meet again, then,' Orage said. 

There was a telephone message on Edward's bench when he 
returned to the laboratory. Celia Woodreeve had rung: she had left 
a number and an extension number. He asked for it: a voice said, 
'Murdoch, features.' Edward asked for Miss Woodreeve. She was 
out on a job. That night, after dinner at the Fortified Flour restaurant, 
he took the car out and drove north, pretending he was going to 
return a book to Maud and borrow another, until he was actually 
outside the Woodreeves' house. Only then did he remember that 
Celia was to be found there only at week-ends He drove home again : 
at least the drive had given his restlessness an outlet. He dwelt, with 
a kind of desperation, on his image of Celia Woodreeve, perhaps only 
because it exorcized his image of Custer-Dwyer's face ruined, aged 
in a moment by his, Edward's, act of self-loving treachery. In his 

128 



dreams that uneasy night, the faces of Custer-Dwyer and Arthur 
Figgis became as one. On the Saturday afternoon Edward went back 
to the Woodreeves' house after having tea with Maud and his father. 
Since Edward's move into lodgings, Mr. Tillotson had become easier 
in manner with his son, and did not question his comings and go- 
ings. 

At the Woodreeves' it was Celia who opened the door and, with a 
kind of slightly excessive brightness, said, *Oh, Mr. Tillotson, do 
come in,' and, as she took his coat from him and hung it on the hall- 
stand, 'I'm longing to hear about the kangaroo.' 'And the emu,' 
Edward said. 

*0f course! The emu.' 

They were still in the little hall when Mr. Woodreeve came 
through a door at the end of it — the kitchen door as Edward was to 
learn when this became familiar territory — carrying a tray covered 
with ready-set mousetraps of the old wood and metal kind. He put 
down the tray to shake hands with Edward, explaining that he was 
starting on his evening rounds, putting down mousetraps all over the 
house. *The old place is overrun with mice.' He excused himself, and 
bustled away with the traps, his long, bony nose, red with effort, 
standing out against the sickly yellow hue of his much folded skin, 
his white hair, untidy with the excitement of the chase, revealing 
patches of pink scalp. *A matter of hygiene,' he explained, from half- 
way up the stairs. Celia shrugged at this as she took Edward into 
the sitting-room, saying, with an open hostility to her father which 
was embarrassing to Edward, *He goes to meetings against fox- 
hunting. He gives money Mother ought to have to the League 
Against Cruel Sports. But this mouse-trapping is nothing but a blood 
sport.' Mrs Woodreeve, sewing by the fireside, said, 'Still, they are 
dirty little beasts,' even before greeting Edward, who was looking, 
for the first time, at what was to become part of his life — the lace 
curtains, and beyond through the window the square patch of brown 
grass and beyond that again the towering, featureless brick wall, tall 
as the house, of the multi-track railway embankment. 'Not,' Mrs. 
Woodreeve said, resuming her needlework, 'that we had mice when 
we had One and Two.' Edward looked perplexed and Celia said, 
sharply, perhaps embarrassed by the whimsicality of these names, 
'Mother's cats.' Edward asked what had happened to those animals, 
saw Mrs. Woodreeve's face flush, and asked no more questions. He 
told them about the kangaroo and the emu. 'They were the gift to 
his old home of an emigrant engine-driver, who made a fortune in 

129 



Sydney and sent them home, to give the children some idea of 
Australia.' 

Celia said, *I expect he thought people would believe they were a 
part of his achievement.' Mrs. Woodreeve said, *If Mr. Tillotson 
would come to lunch tomorrow, you could go for a walk in the park.' 

*In tribute to the departed Australian fauna!' Celia said. Edward 
said he would like to come. 

Edward became a frequenter of the house at week-ends, and of 
concert halls with Celia who shared his own preference for pre- 
Beethoven music. He became oddly confused by the two kinds of 
love which, in the following weeks, took possession of his heart, his 
love for Celia and his love for her mother. Celia herself confused him ; 
there was a hard tension between them whenever they talked, listened 
to music, or were in company with other people: she seemed, in- 
deed, to defy and almost to repudiate him excepting when they were 
alone together. Then, she became easy to be with, sweet, gentle, 
readily playful. Saturdays and Sundays of that spring and summer — 
until the Sunday morning when they sat with Mrs. Woodreeve 
beside the wireless — Mr. Woodreeve having gone to an Ethical 
Chapel of which he was a member — and heard the Prime Minister 
declare war on Germany — Edward and Celia drove out into Hert- 
fordshire and sat and walked and picnicked and made love in 
primrose and bluebell woods. They did not go to Goudhurst because 
Edward's Uncle Walter was ill, not physically ill but so deeply dis- 
turbed by doubts of his 'justification' that Aunt Sarah had made it 
clear that although Edward would be welcome, he must come alone. 
But he would not sacrifice a week-end of Celia's company. 

He became absorbed not only in CeUa but in the whole family. 
What he came to feel for Mrs. Woodreeve can perhaps be conveyed 
by saying that he suflPered for her past: if he thought hard about her 
doing her ten-hour stint at the age of sixteen in the sweat-shop 
which employed her, Edward felt a slight but quite definite pain in 
the loins, as he did if, for example, he read a description of a person 
being burned at the stake. No doubt he was crediting her with 
sufferings beyond what she experienced. As well as that curious 
gesture with her hand at the level of her face, which to him conveyed 
that she found most words inadequate, her only tic was a slight 
twitching of her light eyebrows when she talked to anyone but a 
member of her immediate family circle. When people quarrelled 
before her she sat looking at the floor with an expression of pain on 
her face, and of acute embarrassment. Her wages in the sweat-shop 

130 



where she had made garments before she was miarried had reached 
eighteen shilHngs a week at their highest. When her first child was 
stillborn Mr. Woodreeve was earning thirty shillings a week. But 
by the time Celia was born, when Mr. Woodreeve was over forty 
and Mrs. Woodreeve thirty-nine, he had stopped being a linotype 
operator and become a Union official, a clerk to the Labour move- 
ment, and they had more money. At one time there had been a 
possibility of £400 a year, when Mr. Woodreeve was on the short 
list of Trade Union parliamentary candidates. But he had offended 
some powerful member of the Labour junta by that 'plain speaking' 
which he was proud of and which Celia said was 'plain ill-nature'. 

In the house Mrs. Woodreeve was never still, she was for ever 
getting meals or clearing up after meals or washing or mending and 
making clothes. She made Mr. Woodreeve's shirts and Celia's 
dresses. Once she had made them to her own austere taste. But, taking 
pleasure in CeHa's beauty and boldness (attributes to which the girl 
owed her salvation from her father's ambition to see her a municipal 
clerk or a schoolteacher), she had later come to follow Celia's own 
ideas and even to make use of the fashion papers which her daughter 
brought home occasionally. Twice a week she went to the public 
library, reading mostly topography. She had not seen much of 
England, for Mr. Woodreeve did not take her on his travels, since 
he could not draw expenses for her as well as himself. But she knew 
a surprising amount about the antiquities and beauties of her 
country, although rather as a sedentary geographer 'knows' Pata- 
gonia. Mr. Woodreeve was fond of the cinema and she went with 
him at least once a week: it seemed to Edward that films made no 
more impression on her than they had done on Doris. 

CeHa once said to Edward, 'Mother's life hasn't been much. 
Mostly washing-up water.' That figure of speech made a curiously 
deep impression on him. In idle moments at his bench, or even when 
talking on the telephone, he found himelf no longer doodling patterns 
out of sine curves, or composing fantastic electronic circuits with 
the conventional symbols for electrical devices, but making calcula- 
tions to discover how much washing-up water Mrs. Woodreeve had 
used in her life. It is perhaps not as ridiculous as it seems: it could 
be argued that, socially, it was the most significant thing about her, 
it was what the first half of the twentieth century had had to offer 
women like her. Edward became absurdly exasperated by the 
difficulty of arriving at an exact figure, as biographers, no doubt, are 
exasperated by the difficulty of arriving at the significant statistics for 



their subjects — the exact number of young hves cut gloriously short 
by great captains ; the exact number of soldiers given the chance to 
die by great statesmen. In the end he was more or less satisfied that 
Mrs. Woodreeve had consumed sixty-five thousand seven hundred 
gallons of v^^ashing-up water. 

This dwelling on Mrs. Woodreeve had one disagreeable con- 
sequence: Edward had 'got over' Arthur Figgis's death but now, as 
if he were being prepared for the shock to come he had a relapse into 
remorse. It was sentimental: it seemed to him that Figgis had had 
nothing and that he, Edward, had taken away the man's chance to 
make up for it. He was aware that McFadden had been the first 
employer Figgis had ever had who recognized that he was man like 
any other and should be spared the humiliation of always being told 
he was not worth his pay, could not keep up with other men, and had 
no skill. McFadden, by appearing to consult with Figgis about his 
garden at Mulberry Trees, had allowed him to have self-respect. 
Because of Edward this happy state had lasted only a few months. 
Edward's state of mind about this was not in any kind of proportion, 
but it showed that McFadden had been right when he said, as Figgis 
lay between them on the floor of that intolerably hot room, that he 
had given himself a weight to carry. 

To what extent Edward's 'knowledge' of Celia and of Mrs. Wood- 
reeve, reached by way of a love whose growth was forced by the 
heated atmosphere of war, represented anything which can properly 
be called objective, it is impossible to say : probably he created them 
as he had created Doris; probably no other kind of knowledge of 
people by people is possible. For, if he and these two women pene- 
trated each other with the widely refracted and distorting radiance of 
love, on the other hand Edward's indifference to Mr. Woodreeve 
enabled him to see more straightly, perhaps, but very superficially. 
As Edward's imagination went to work, creating this new landscape 
for his own use — the gigantic wall of the railway, the joyous trumpet- 
ing of passing northbound expresses drawn out into a mournful wail, 
the brown rooms, the grey sky reflected in the grey and oily surface 
of the road — and its figures, Mr. Woodreeve was, as it were, only 
sketched in and remained flat and, perhaps, unconvincing. 

It was that whistling of passing trains which had been the occasion 
of Edward's first encounter with anything but the rather unpleasing 
surfaces of Mr. Woodreeve. They had interrupted one of those 
pointless conversations about the consequences of war which were 
general throughout Europe during those weeks, while the deafening 

132 



shriek of the Irish Packet express was drawn out into a dying fall as 
the train passed to its thunderous passage through Overbury Park 
Junction. 'Doppler's Effect' Edward said, of the sound. Mr. Wood- 
reeve had hardly forgiven him for that a week later because, as 
Edward came to know, he had what can only be described as a jealous 
contempt for the kind of knowledge that names and defines and 
classifies things. He detested clarity. The way Celia put it was to call 
him a 'born liberal' ; there was much to be said on both sides, even 
about the name for the locomotive whistle's dying fall. And this 
rejection of definition became Edward's symbol for Mr. Woodreeve 
in his mind's work and his heart's work of bringing the Woodreeves 
into the only kind of existence which is real, the one you make your- 
self as you go along, second by second ; and then remake time and 
again, at every fresh physical contact, because nothing retains its 
reality beyond the time when it is in touch with your senses, not even 
the furniture of a familiar room or the features of the most familiar 
face. He had to make a new set of symbols to represent what he could 
understand of Celia's impatient adoration of her mother and her 
intense dislike of her father which she was for ever justifying a shade 
defiantly: she maintained, for example (and insisted that her father's 
workmates were of her opinion), that the W.E.T.S. — 'and the 
T.U.C., come to that' — were staffed by men whom the real workers 
had been anxious to get rid of. 'It accounts,' she said, 'for the Labour 
Party being what it is. A pity it's always out of the question to vote 
for the others.' It had not occurred to Edward that it was out of the 
question to vote for the others. It had not occurred to him that it was 
necessary to vote for anyone or that it mattered. He was politically 
indifferent. 

Celia's hostility to her father was a source of pain to her mother. 
Time and again Edward heard her say, 'Celia, you've no call to talk 
like that about your father. You're only here week-ends, you only 
have to be dutiful two days out of seven.' And to Edward, 'Her 
father's health isn't what it was. Well, I don't have to tell you that, it 
was you brought him home that night he collapsed. She ought to 
make allowances.' 

On the Friday following the declaration of war Reuben Lipschitz 
came to Kinesound and both Edward and his colleague Adam Olby 
were sent for to Connor's office, where Mr. Lipschitz sat in Connor's 
swivel chair, restlessly swinging it backwards and forwards through 
forty-five degrees, and Connor himself sat with one buttock on the 
corner of his desk. Reuben never uttered any kind of greeting or 

133 



preamble to what he had to say: thus, on this occasion, he said,* You 
two are being transferred to the Selectron Corporation as of Monday. 
O.K. ?' Olby simply nodded but Edward said, *What about the war?' 
He referred, of course, to the fact that he would soon be called-up ; 
or even, perhaps, to a vague feeling that he might volunteer for 
service, probably in the Royal Air Force. Reuben Lipschitz said, 
'What d'you think I'm talking about? Selectron's where you'll do 
your war work.' 

'What war work?' 

Tou'll be told.' 

Connor said, 'A lot more important than toting a rifle. Asdic 
research for one thing. If you know what that is.' Edward did not 
know what it was but he was more concerned at the moment to 
assert himself. He said, 'But supposing I want to join up.' To which 
Reuben said, 'Look, boy, you're being directed into Selectron, see? 
Everybody's going to be directed into something, see ? Where they 
can do most good. Any schlemil can shoot a gun, but this war's going 
to take more than bullets.' 

Olby said, 'What about pay, Mr. Lipschitz?' and Edward dis- 
covered that they would be getting much more than they had been 
receiving from Kinesound, and Reuben, laughing with the peculiar 
innocent cynicism which distin_guished him, said, 'War contracts, 
boy. Gives us a bit of elbow-room. There's no taste in nothing.' 
Edward said, 'You mean I can't join up even if I want to?' As 
Edward was leaving the room he added, 'I've had guidance about 
you, boy.' 

When Edward told Celia about this, which he did at dinner that 
evening, a scratch meal in her lodgings before a visit to the cinema, 
she said, 'Selectron? You're in luck.' Like most journalists, even as 
junior as herself, she had a certain amount of more or less unreHable 
information about the institutions which exercised power behind the 
shadow-play of manifest public life. Edward said, 'You know some- 
thing about it?' All she knew was that Selectron was an N.A.E. 
subsidiary, small but supposed to be in the lead by reason of a 
number of patents which Lipschitz had bought from an independent 
Swiss inventor. But she had the other journalistic gift, resembling 
that said to be the distinction of French housewives, of making a few 
scraps into an apparently substantial feast. Edward allowed himself to 
be convinced mainly because his mind was not really on the subject 
of his future: he had received a subpoena to appear in court and bear 
witness against Major Custer-Dwyer. He wanted to tell her about it, 

134 



but he was afraid : Celia, although she took the usual freedoms of the 
time in matters of moraHty, was often censorious. Mixing, as he had 
begun to do, with the set of men and women which had absorbed her 
before she met him, Edward had discovered that they regarded, 
with a kind of good-natured amusement which would not, perhaps, 
have been conceded to a girl less beautiful, the simpHcity of her failure 
to judge others by the same criteria as governed her own behaviour. 
The way her mother put it was to say that Celia 'did not make 
allowances'. Like her father, whom despite herself she resembled, 
she did not know what it was to be unjustified. The fierce contempt 
with which she spoke of behaviour or people that she disapproved 
of, and her inability or unwillingness to distinguish shades of 
wickedness, seemed to derive from a kind of romanticism which 
Edward could appreciate intellectually. But, as a guilty man fre- 
quently at odds with his self — an ambivalence inconceivable to 
Celia — he was bound to be afraid of it, and to fall short, in his 
relationship with Celia, of perfect candour. At the time, therefore, 
he did not tell her about the sordid little adventure which was taking 
him into the police-courts. 

Edward's boss at Selectron, whose research department was in an 
old and ugly building in Clerkenwell, was a man named Elham. He 
was not a scientist — as the newspapers now call certain categories of 
industrial operatives — but a businessman, one of a dozen trusties 
Reuben Lipschitz employed to run his diverse enterprises, people 
he had picked out of subordinate positions for the nervous deference 
manifest in their application to boring routine tasks. They were 
conditioned to do his will, conditioned even to confusing it with the 
way of the world and with ultimate good sense and therefore 
morality. It was to Elham and the others that Reuben delegated 
certain of his own attributes which it did not suit or become him to 
possess but which were necessary to success. By him in person the 
larger gestures were made; by them the little ones. Elham was an 
anxious man, especially about money in small sums. During 
Edward's first month at Selectron he twice saw Elham, in the mirror 
over the wash-basin in his office, stealing six or seven matches from 
the box on the desk; and once, when Edward had asked for a light in 
Elham's office, Elham handed him a box of matches and asked for 
the three ha'pence. 

With Adam Olby as a team-mate, Edward settled down to working 
out modifications and applications of the TFB to certain pulse- 
shaping and amplifying circuits supplied to them by the Admiralty. 

135 



I, 



They were by no means overworked and Edward began a series of 
calculations and experiments of his own. He wanted to build an 
electronic voice-fabricator: when a sound is recorded it is captured 
either as an undulant groove in some plastic material, or as a wavy 
line of light on a roll of film, or as a train of magnetic fields on a 
length of wire. It occurred to Edward that the series of sounds which 
constitutes a speech or a song had values which could be expressed 
mathematically; and that once so expressed they could be rendered, 
on a suitable apparatus, electronically ; and recorded, reproduced, as 
sound. Adam Olby said that he had never heard of such a useless idea 
in his life. 'I don't care about that,' Edward said, * it amuses me. 
Besides, you never know. For instance, although there have been 
beautiful singing voices, I suppose none has ever been perfect. I 
might make the perfect voices to sing, say, Aida. Or a voice with 
more hypnotic power than bloody old Adolf's.' 

When he told Celia about it, and put the case of the operatic voices 
as an example, she was contemptuous. 'The thing about singing is 
the feeling, the emotion, the heart the singer puts into her song. 
You're not going to tell me you can do that by machinery.' Tn 
theory you certainly can. When you say ** emotion", I translate that 
as "harmonics". Why is a tune played on a good fiddle more moving 
than the same tune played on a bad one ? Richer harmonics. As far 
as I can see, it should be possible to find out, for instance, what are 
the harmonics in Gigli's voice which are tear-jerking or soul-shaking, 
and enrich them to the optimum value.' 

'Rubbish,' Celia said, 'it's an absolutely ridiculous idea. The 
values of art are imponderable.' 

Edward knew that this was one of the things Celia would not 
argue about; she was emotionally involved and, if he persisted, would 
become angry and talk him down. He looked at her Nephertite 
profile, her silky hair, the exquisite grace of her beautifully held body, 
and laughed, as if he were dismissing what he himself had said as 
whimsical nonsense. But it so excited him that he wanted to talk to 
somebody about it, somebody who would understand. From his 
office he telephoned to Mendoza's and asked for Mr. Pardoner, to 
be told that he had been recalled to the Navy and that his address 
could not be given. They offered to forward a letter, but Edward 
did not take the trouble to write. 

On the Saturday following this failure to talk to Mr. Pardoner, 
Celia found Edward very low-spirited and absent-minded during the 
walk in the park to which petrol restrictions had reduced them. She 

136 



was kind and gentle in trying to get him to say what was the matter 
with him and it was only then, at last, two weeks after his appearance 
in the police-court, that he told her about the Custer-Dwyer case. 
He stammered and blundered through the first part; she interrupted 
once to say, *You were crazy to use that place. We get half a dozen 
cases a week reported from there.' *I didn't know that,' Edward said, 
and, resuming where she had interrupted him, 'David was in court. 
He wouldn't even look at me. Not that I blame him. Custer-Dwyer 
had two lawyers, one of them a pale, sniggering solicitor I'd met at 
David's years ago, the other a man named Smedley . . .' 

'Somebody was spending freely.' 

*He earned what he got. I shall have nightmares about it. He 
started quite conversationally by asking me whether it was not a 
fact that I had known the accused for a long time, more than a year. 
I said I had. Then he asked me whether the accused had not simply 
been greeting me as an old friend he had not seen for some time and 
giving me news of a young woman in whom I was interested. I 
wanted to say yes, that was exactly true. But it was like I've said, I 
was caught up, I couldn't do it, I hated him for what I was doing to 
him, I just went on lying. Smedley actually accused me of lying, put 
it as a question. He's a very dark man with a long, ascetic face and it 
looked enormous, a threatening gargoyle as he leaned towards me and 
said it . . . ''Aren't you telling a pack of lies, Mr. Tillotson?" I said 
No and even I could hear that it sounded like Yes. They had David 
in the box and he told about Doris. The police lawyer tried to stop 
it, but Smedley got enough over to make it clear that I was probably 
acting spitefully . . .' 

'What was the outcome?' 

'Case dismissed.' 

Celia shrugged. 'A case of all being well that ends well.' 

'Is that how it seems to you ?' 

For a moment she looked at Edward in silence. The purity of her 
features and the golden radiance of her head was a reproach to him. 
She said, 'If you don't want to suffer remorse, you don't do these 
things. It's very simple, really. Let's walk, I'm getting cold.' 

They walked home briskly; Edward resented the tone of contempt 
in which Ceha had judged him. Certainly, what he had done was 
contemptible, but for some reason which he could not have explained 
he felt that he deserved sympathy, not contempt, as if he were one 
of the victims of what he had done, or as if what seemed to have 
been done by him had not altogether been done by him. 

137 



He did not say anything about his resentment until they were in 
Overbury Park Road, and then he began, 'It's all very well for you 

to say ' But Celia interrupted him, saying, 'That's the doctor's 

car outside our house.' Neither of them said any more but they 
hurried. Celia's face lit with happiness when her mother opened the 
door and she said, 'Thank God there's nothing wrong with you.' 
Mrs. Woodreeve said, 'Your father's been taken very queer.' 



When the bombing of London started Edward and Adam Olby 
joined the same ambulance depot of the Civil Defence Service. On 
duty-nights when there were no calls for his ambulance, Edward 
slept on a stretcher in the underground garage. He was at first very 
much ashamed to discover that he was terrified of raids. It seemed 
to him that nobody else was as frightened as he was. One of his mates 
during the nights of terror and destruction was a girl named Alice 
who had been a model in a dress house; she was slender, fair and 
silky-looking, she appeared to be without fear, and Edward envied 
her. But it was not her example, nor that of scores of other seemingly 
unfrightened people, which enabled him to overcome his fear, but 
a kind of obstinate contempt for the self which was so intent upon 
being saved alive. This contempt was, in a way, an opposite to his 
Uncle Walter's preoccupation with his self: Edward had no such 
intimation as Walter Tillotson's that God wanted him to save him- 
self because he might be among the justified. His terror did not 
abate, but was stimulated by every serious 'incident'. One night he 
was sent out, with Alice, to what had been reported as an 'incident' 
in a street off Russell Square. He drove past groups of flaming houses 
and over the manifold serpentine obstructions of the fire-fighters' 
hoses. Bombs were falling in sticks of five on both sides of his route 
and every explosion was the one before that which would surely kill 
him. When they got to their destination there was no 'incident' ; the 
street had not been hit, but there was a gigantic old man in a base- 
ment bedroom who said that he had been a physician and knew he 
was suffering from acute appendicitis and must be taken to hospital 
at once. He was green and sweating and abjectly afraid of dying 
whether of peritonitis or by a bomb. Edward and Alice were not 
strong enough to carry him up the steps to street level — he must 

138 



have been six foot six inches and he was corpulent. They could not 
even have managed a stretcher, so steep was the rise. When the old 
man realized this, although he was huddled over his pain, he got out 
of bed and crawled up the steps on his hands and knees, with Edward 
pushing him from behind. 

Edward was filled with contempt for this abject surrender of 
dignity. It seemed to him that old people should be prepared to die 
rather than go to such lengths to preserve their lives. There was a kind 
of ugliness in such clinging to the last vestige of one's count of years 
when the young were dying by their thousands; but, worse than that, 
as he shoved away at the huge and fleshy old buttocks clad in 
enormous cotton pyjamas, Edward suddenly discovered that if there 
was a God — his uncle's or any other — inflicting the horrors of peace, 
let alone war, on mankind, then he, Edward, would certainly not give 
Him the satisfaction of showing too thoroughgoing an attachment 
to a life which must have been given as a monstrous practical joke. 
In that case it was all the more important to show no fear. 

A week later, one of the station ambulances was hit by a bomb 
while taking on people wounded by an earlier bomb. It was at a small 
Underground station, the second bomb was a large one, and it killed 
fourteen people, all women. Edward was sent out, but not with 
Alice, who had been with the first ambulance and was one of the 
dead. When he reached the scene the station was on fire, but there 
were still many people, some injured and others only shocked, to be 
brought out. One of the first things he saw as he went in with the 
heavy rescue men was that the principal steel beams of roof structure 
must soon collapse. But before that happened, over thirty people 
were brought to the surface and saved. Driving to the hospital with 
seven injured people, Edward discovered that while very busily 
engaged in the exhausting work — every moment more dangerous — of 
saving other people, he had not been afraid : he had not been aware 
of himself at all. He gave himself no marks for this, knowing that he 
would not have gone into that hell if he had seemed to have any 
choice. But he was interested in this discovery about his own nature. 
He even told Celia about it, but she only said, 'Darling, everyone 
knows that — it's the people with nothing to do who suff"er agonies of 
terror. The best thing to be in this bloody war is a soldier. A soldier 
isn't an I : he's part of an Us.' 

In the course of the following months Edward gained the upper 
hand over his cowardice ; but he thought of that cowardice as his self, 
and of his victory as a denial of his self, a curtailing of his self's 

139 



liberty. As if in reaction, he became rather aggressive in the labora- 
tories and offices of Kinesound. To his own surprise he discovered 
that his self knew very w^ell what it was about. Edward's assertive- 
ness, his almost quarrelsome propagation of his own ideas and his 
own methods of work, were counted to him for the assurance of 
conscious ability. He was promoted over Olby's head, given two 
assistants, and responsibility for a number of research projects. 
When, in good faith, he pointed out, as usual at any important 
juncture of his working life, that he was technically unqualified, 
this was taken for the hypocritical candour of a man so sure of 
himself that he feels he can afford to be more honest than is 
necessary. 

Edward had been in enjoyment of place and good pay for almost a 
year when the Research Department of the Royal Naval Wireless 
Telegraphy School, at Hasiemere, asked Elham to send them a 
technician to sit in at an important conference. This conference was 
to be composed of Special Branch naval officers who had been using, 
at sea, some apparatus originated by the W/T School, developed by 
Selectron, and manufactured by a firm called Llewellyn and Powel. 
The apparatus had not been performing satisfactorily. 

Elham sent Edward, partly because he had worked on the gear in 
question, and partly because he had his own motor-car. 

Edward drove into Surrey: people who worked at a certain level 
for any of Lipschitz's firms did not have to worry about petrol. The 
Naval Establishment he wanted was not in W/T School. It turned 
out to be an eighteenth-century manor-house called Brandon's Pitch 
five miles from the town. From the back of the house rose a long hill, 
once fine lawn with clumps of trees and shrubs, now a village of 
Nissen huts. On the top of this hill, commanding views of the 
countryside, was a folly in the form of a Greek temple and rather 
larger than such pretty summer-houses usually are. It was there, 
despite every inconvenience and protest, that the officer Edward had 
come to see, and who was known as S.S.O., had installed his personal 
office. From its back windows you could see a little valley with a 
stream where monkey-musk grew in summer, and a Chinese bridge. 
This had not yet been invaded by Nissen huts and S.S.O. — which 
stood for Senior Scientific Officer — had saved it from the County 
War Agricultural Committee by stocking it out of his own pocket with 
three Jersey cows which, milked by a Wren of rural antecedents, 
provided the establishment with milk. 

These facts Edward did not learn until, five minutes after his 

140 



arrival, he was shown into the office whose door bore the letters 
S.S.O. and, to his surprise and keen pleasure, found himself face to 
face with Mr. Pardoner, in the uniform of a Commander R.N.V.R. 
— and with small tufts of hair growing just below his cheek-bones, 
which, from time to time, he touched with his finger-tips and an air 
of sardonic complacency. 

After they had greeted each other and each briefly explained how 
he came to be there, Commander Pardoner told Edward about his 
establishment, dwelHng with particular satisfaction on his small herd 
of cows and his W.R.N. S. dairymaid. 'Their lordships in their 
wisdom, Tillotson, tried to stop my venture into farming. Two 
things thwarted them, however: by an ancient rule officers and 
ratings are allowed to keep livestock on board provided the captain 
does not object. I am the officer commanding this ship and I don't 
object. The other thing is that there is no question of my being an 
admiral: they are going to restore my R.N. commission, but a four- 
ring pension will do me very nicely. And I shall not, when I get it, 
emulate the great Ulysses and take an oar on my shoulder and walk 
inland until I meet a native who asks me what it is I'm carrying. I 
shall live in a bungalow near Folkestone, play the organ in church, 
and write a book called Calculus for C 5.' 

At Mendoza's Mr. Pardoner would not have used such a word ; yet 
it was not out of character. Commander Pardoner was recognizably 
the same person as Mr. Pardoner, but, as it were, louder and larger, 
as if he had had to swell to fill his uniform. 

Brandon's Pitch was on the Admiralty establishment as H.M.S. 
Tungsten and Commander Pardoner was in very high spirits because 
the Germans were claiming to have sunk his 'ship'. 'That fellow 
Haw-Haw,' he waved a monitor's report on the Deutschlandsender 
transmissions at Edward and then, reading aloud in a fair imitation 
of Joyce's nasal snarl, went on, 'Gairmany calling, this is Gairmany 
calling ... on the night of the fourteenth our undersea-boat U one- 
four-seven, Captain Willi Luft, operating within the ridiculously 
inefficient British minefield off the Isle of Wight, torpedoed and 
sank the new metal class destroyer H.M.S. Tungsten. There were 
no survivors. Extraordinary chap, isn't he? However, to work . . .' 
And Commander Pardoner took Edward into an adjoining room 
where half a dozen young destroyer officers were waitmg for 
them. 

As a result of this conference Edward was put into the unifonn of 
a lieutenant R.N.V.R. and sent to sea for a month. He took part in a 

141 



battle against some E-boats, and found that he could behave with 
courage. Then he returned, worked for another month, until late 
every night, on the faulty apparatus, and when that work was 
completed he was given permission to work on a project of his own, 
the application of the TFB to a radar device called the Plan 
Position Indicator — PPI for short. This assignment received job 
number 45/42. 

Edward was now working very long hours and although the battle 
for London had long been over and raids were fewer, he was still 
on duty four nights a week. Celia had no fixed hours of work: she 
was on call by her newspaper twenty-four hours a day and seven 
days a week. She had 'covered' scores of the worst air-raid 'incidents' 
and had been courageous in danger; but the spectacle of helpless 
people whose responsibility for the state of war was negligible being 
massacred, had had a serious effect on her. Her pity for the victims 
turned to rage against their killers, and she made very little dis- 
tinction between the German government, and the leaders on her 
own side. The war was an atrocious outrage, they were all in it 
together, and if Hitler was a scoundrel, Churchill was not much 
better. As Edward's mind was less detached from received opinion, 
and he found it easier to be a patriot than a human being judging 
in isolation from the herd, he and Celia avoided talking about the 
war. They clung together against it as the principal enemy of their 
happiness. But they clung in silence. They did not talk about their 
love: they acted it. 

* * * 

In the course of one of those rare raids on London which followed 
the failure of the main attack, a stick of five bombs fell on Overbury 
Park Road, destroying most of its houses but leaving the Wood- 
reeves' very little damaged. Mr. Woodreeve had been bed-ridden 
since the evening when Edward and Celia had come back from the 
park to find the doctor's car outside the house. The basement had 
been turned into a bedroom, and either because this provided a 
measure of shelter or because both Mr. and Mrs. Woodreeve were 
too concentrated on his sickness to pay much attention to any other 
danger, neither of them showed fear of bombs. 

Edward was off duty on the night following the damage to 
Overbury Park and he went to the Woodreeves', for Celia had moved 
back there following the destruction of her own lodgings and also 
because her mother needed some help with Mr. Woodreeve. Edward 
saw the doctor's car driving away from the Woodreeves' house as he 

142 



came in sight of it. The whole neighbourhood had been transformed 
by the big raid. Formerly, Overbury Park Road had run like a slate- 
grey canal of slack water between very tall, flat-fronted houses of 
grey or yellow brick. (Edward always remembered it as a place one 
heard as well as saw — the swishing noise of tyres on the kind of 
wetness you get from slowly condensing fog.) The slice of sky be- 
tween the houses reflected the colour of the road. It must sometimes 
have been fine in Overbury Park, sometimes summer; but he never 
thought of it so. As one of a hundred like it, the Woodreeves' house 
had looked as much in place as a book on a book-shelf. Now it 
stuck up like the beginning of something never finished and the 
road, unbordered, ran with an air of madness through a rubble 
desert where, of course, no loosestrife, no buddleia, no nettles had 
yet begun the work of natural reclamation. 

Mrs. Woodreeve opened the door to him and he now knew her 
well enough to glance not at her face but at her right hand: the 
arthritic little finger was curled into the palm and, mechanically, 
she was moving all the others as if playing an invisible piano. But 
the curled little finger did not move : she never could move it when 
Mr. Woodreeve had been, as she called it, 'creating', or when some- 
thing else was wrong in her household. 

*How is he ?' Edward said. 

*They don't tell me. I think he's dying.' 

Edward nodded: he had nothing to say because there were such 
large areas of reserve in her own spirit. If she was sorry it was for 
her husband's pain, and it might be because there was nobody 
whose pain she was not sorry for and his was much nearer to her 
than any other; they had been together for thirty years. She had told 
Edward, in a rare moment of bitterness, of disgust with herself, 
'He's in pain and it's a demand he makes on me, a reproach to me, 
as if he enjoyed it because he can make it a kind of triumph over me, 
a proof that I haven't done right by him.' CeUa said that it was 
because her mother had ceased to love her husband and had lost 
her respect for him that she felt thus bitterly guilty of his pain. 
Edward told her that that was a kind of judgement nobody had the 
right to make: T don't think we ever know anything about other 
people excepting when we recognize ourselves in them; and not 
much even then.' 

When Celia came down she was already wearing gloves and had 
a scarf tied over her head, so that Edward knew they were to go out. 
Her mother said, 'Don't be long. Your father . . .' 

143 



*A11 right, mother, all right! I just want a breath of air. We'll go 
and feed the kangaroo.' 

This had become the formula for *we will go for a walk in the 
park' but when they were outside Edward said, *Do you mind if we 
walk round to my father's? I couldn't get them on the phone this 
morning. I had better see if they're all right.' 

Celia agreed, but rather curtly. She and Edward had been only 
once to see Mr. Tillotson and Maud, and afterwards it had become 
obvious to Edward that it would not do to go often. His father was 
the sort of man for whom Celia would certainly not 'make allow- 
ances' and she evidently found Maud both affected in her conver- 
sation and rather slatternly in her appearance. Edward had been 
careful not to ask Celia what she 'thought' of his people : they had 
been silent for a long time after leaving his father's house after that 
first visit; then Celia had said, 'Don't you resent her — Mrs. 
Olantigh?' 

'Resent her? She's not a bad sort.' 

*I daresay. But after all, your mother ' 

'You have to be tolerant,' Edward said. To which Celia replied, 
'Do you? Aren't we a lot too tolerant? Isn't tolerance apt to become 
the enemy of decent behaviour ?' 

'No,' Edward said, 'I don't think so.' 

They had not been to see Edward's family again, but now they 
walked towards the house briskly and in silence. They should have 
been able to see the house from the corner where they turned into 
the street, but it was not there. The state of affairs was the reverse 
of Overbury Park Road — most of the houses were untouched, but 
there was this gap, through which a gasometer and a cluster of factory 
chimneys were visible, where Mr. Tillotson's house and its neigh- 
bours on each side had stood. 

Although Edward had seen a great deal of raid damage and was 
used to living in a partly ruined city, this sudden disappearance of 
the house he had been born and raised in was inexpressibly shocking. 
The idea that his father and Maud were probably dead was a secon- 
dary shock, although no doubt the more enduring. Without a word 
to Celia he began to run. He found four or five heavy rescue men still 
poking and lifting among the ruins, but instead of questioning them 
he stood and stared. He could not at once face the exposure of his 
feelings to these strangers. Celia caught up with him almost at once ; 
she saw that he was livid and that there were tears in his eyes and 
even beginning to run down his cheeks, and did not suspect that he 

144 



was weeping for himself, because his base was gone, his retreat cut 
off. She asked the men what had happened to the people in the 
houses and was told that the two outside ones had been empty, 
their tenants in the Services or evacuated : two bodies, a man and a 
woman, had been taken out of the middle house. 

Edward listened to this and then turned and walked away. Celia 
followed him. He had stopped crying but his face was set. She took 
his hand and held it. They walked aimlessly for half an hour before 
CeHa persuaded him to report to the police-station and find out 
what steps he was required to take. From there she went with him 
to the mortuary. When he came out from identifying the bodies, they 
had started to walk away when Edward suddenly caught hold of the 
iron railings which protected an area and was sick on the pavement. 
There was a special constable patrolling the street and he stopped 
and said to Celia, 'Your friend can't do that here.' 'Don't talk like 
a bloody fool,' Celia said, with such ferocity that the man flushed 
and walked on. 

When they got back to Overbury Park Road, and Celia had told 
her mother what had happened, Mrs. Woodreeve said that Edward 
ought to stay the night. He was grateful to her, and helped Celia 
to make up the bed in what had been her parents' room. When it 
was bed-time Celia went up with him to see that he had everything 
he wanted, and as she was about to leave him she said, 'I can't 
bear to see you looking so unhappy. There's nothing one can say 
or do '. 

'It's funny,' Edward said, 'I feel lonely. It's no good pretending 
I was fond of my father. I was quite fond of Maud but I despised 
him. And now I feel as if by doing so I did him some frightful 
wrong and can never be forgiven.' 

'That's morbid, Edward,' Celia said. 'If — a person was des- 
picable it's no use pretending he wasn't because he's dead.' 

'The idea that people die and it obviously doesn't matter frightens 
me,' he said. 

She said nothing. This was a thing both of them knew they were 
beginning to feel and which they did not talk about, any more than 
they talked about their love. When they drew close together they 
had nothing to say to each other; or, if they had, no words not 
long worn out. It seems, if books are anything to go by, that, time 
was, people exchanged noble words about their deep feelings. 
Edward and Celia did not. For his part, he was learning to suspect 
words not only in the present, but in the past. It seemed to him that 

145 



the whole of language when applied to feelings, and perhaps when 
applied to objects too, was a sort of fallacy. He discovered a terrible 
truth in the notion of the word as creative. Surely it made the 
thing it pretended to designate ? He was coming to have a feeling that 
the moment you start talking about love you bring into existence 
something which it is not. He thought it was experience of air- 
raid 'Incidents', CeHa's as a reporter, his own as an ambulance 
driver, which had brought both of them secretly to a conclusion 
which they did not discuss but which each sensed in the other: 
that, except presumably for Christians, it is ridiculous (though 
essential) to go on pretending that human beings matter. Death 
was being served out wholesale and it quite obviously did not 
matter. The harvest destroys countless millions of ears of wheat: 
thereafter there are more than ever; nor is their essential quality, 
their 'wheatness', impaired or modified. CeHa, as well as Edward, 
took a kind of grim, unhappy pride in their new detachment. But 
Edward knew that this was hubris: to do without the pretences, to 
dare to perceive that words are not true, was mortally dangerous; 
because although they were not true they were the only symbols we 
had and by denying them you rejected the rites whereby you con- 
tinually conjured into being the world of feeling you had agreed to 
regard as real. 

After the silence following Edward's confession, Celia said, 'Shall 
I come to you later?' 

It seemed to Edward that she made this suggestion in the spirit of a 
charitable person visiting the sick, and he said, 'Ought we — here?' 

'I think Mother knows.' 

'Yes, but all the same ' 

'She'll be downstairs, with Father.' 

Celia came to him when the house seemed to be sleeping. She 
did her best to make her love-making into an act of sympathy; but 
as always happened when their love-making was prompted by any- 
thing but selfishness, instead of uniting them, it set each apart in an 
isolation so complete that it seemed as if love could have no enemy 
more powerful than lust. They were both very tired and fell into an 
exhausted sleep that was not broken by the air-raid warning which 
roused Mrs. Woodreeve at six o'clock the following morning. Edward 
was a lighter sleeper than Celia; although the raid warning did not 
wake him, the 'raiders past' siren, which followed almost at once — 
the warning was probably a false alarm — did. He had his eyes open 
when Mrs. Woodreeve, her hair braided like a little girl's, and wear- 

146 



ing a grey flannel dressing-gown with a scalloped collar, came into 
the room. She was carrying a cup of tea. 'It's early,' she said, 'but 

I had to be up and I thought ' At that moment she saw Celia's 

head on the pillow next to Edward's, and lowering her eyes and 
flushing, she backed out of the room, taking the tea with her and 
shutting the door after her. 

She shut the door rather noisily, which woke CeHa, who said, as 
if even in sleep she had become aware that the manner of her 
awakening was not to be untroubled, 'What's the matter?' Guiltily, 
as if the responsibility was his, Edward said, 'Your mother came in 
with tea for me.' Celia sat up in bed and said, *0h, God!' Edward 
had started to dress: he stood by the door, hesitating to go to the 
bathroom in case he might meet Mrs. Woodreeve. Celia said, 'Damn, 
damn, damn!' Outside the bedroom door, he could hear Mrs. Wood- 
reeve getting breakfast. He had an impulse to speak to her first, 
before Celia could do so : shaved, but without collar and tie, he went 
and knocked on the door of Celia's own room, to which she had 
returned, and said, 'Bathroom's free.' Then he went down to the 
kitchen. He said, as he opened the door and saw Mrs. Woodreeve at 
the gas stove putting bacon into the frying-pan, 'How is he ?' 

'Much the same,' Mrs. Woodreeve said, with a kind of tinny 
brightness. She did not look at him. Her hair was still in braided 
plaits and she was still wearing her flannel dressing-gown. Edward 
stared at the floor and said, 'Of course, we're going to be married, 
you know.' 

'I wouldn't want to interfere,' Mrs. Woodreeve said. 

'It's not a question of interference,' Edward said, 'I mean, we 
were going to be married anyway, only what with the war and 
that ' 

'You'd better call CeUa,' Mrs. Woodreeve said, 'or this bacon'll 
spoil and there's no more till next week.' 



When Edward told Celia what he had said to her mother, she was 
angry. She said, 'You can't unmake a mistake by making another 
one.' It was apparent from her tone that she had begun to utter this 
objection seriously and only half-way through it had decided that 
she ought to make it sound like a joke; by the time she had finished 

H7 



speaking it she was not sure that it was not a joke. It was in much the 
same confused spirit that Edward said. 'You'll have to marry me 
whether you want to or not. I would not dream of upsetting your 
mother, who's worth ten of you.' He was not certain that he did not 
mean it. , 

During the next few days, however, Edward's sentimental life 
had to give way to a matter of business. 

The job which was known in the laboratories by the number 
45/42 had been brought to a quick and successful conclusion by 
the second and last of those strokes of 'intuition' (close, keen 
observation and intense attention) which influenced the whole of 
his life. A week or two later he asked Elham, quite casually, what 
had happened to the work. He was told that when he had finished 
his share of a job, he had no more business with it; this was not said 
offensively and Edward would have thought no more about it, but 
having to go to Haslemere for a day, to see Commander Pardoner, 
Edward had asked, as he was leaving and simply for something 
to say, how S.S.O.'s subordinates were getting on with 'our job 

45/42^ 

'Hasn't come our way. What is it, Tillotson?' 

'Adaptation of my feed-back to Plan Position Indicator focus- 
ing.' 

'You've done something on that? We could use it.' 

That evening, when Edward again asked Elham about the job, 
the manager's tone was at once so equivocal and so rude that 
Edward lost his temper and said that if he were not told exactly 
what had happened to his work in this case, he was going to make 
trouble for someone. 

'Mainly yourself, Tillotson. This is top secret.' 

'Balls! Either you tell me or I phone S.S.O. and advise him to 
make a few inquiries.' 

'Get out of my office !' 

When the angry manager sent for Edward again, Lipschitz was 
with him and Elham left them alone. 

Lipschitz was always a difficult man to deal with because nobody 
ever thinks of a spiritualist as being an effectual person. Reuben 
was; nobody more so; and what you had to learn was that whether 
he came to a meeting citing Brendan Bracken at the Ministry of 
Information as his authority for a certain course, or Beaverbrook at 
the Ministry of Supply, or Oliver Cromwell in limbo or wherever 
it is the spirits live, to him there was no difference, the authority was 

H8 



equally valid. No doubt there was a great deal of sense in this. This 
time, however, he did not begin by an account of a session he had had 
with the emperor Napoleon. He looked at Edward across Elham's 
untidy desk and said, *I got you in here to work for us in our way. 
And if we do business with Admiralty we do it our way. It's not your 
department. If you think you can stick your nose into the admini- 
stration of this outfit, you're mashugah.* 

'Talk English, Reuben,' Edward said. 

'Crazy, boy, crazy \ If you're worried about how Admiralty can 
get on with their war without your little bit of help, you know what 
you can do about it.' 

'You're all mixed up, Reuben. Telling me you'll kick me out of 
here into the Navy isn't a threat. It's a promise.' 

Reuben saw that Edward meant it, especially when he added 
'The best month for me since the war started was the one at sea, 
with that "D" Flotilla.' 

'Fire-eater, eh.? Fancy yourself with gold rings round your arm?' 
Reuben leant towards him, straining against the edge of the desk, 
and hit the blotter with his soft little hand. 'Where's your patrio- 
tism.? You're worth twenty of those fancy types, in here, and you 
know it.' He glowered for a moment, effectively despite the come- 
dian's eyebrows, and said, 'But you don't know the facts of life.' 

'I'll guess at one lot, though,' Edward said, adopting Reuben's 
own manner, 'I think you've filed away job 45/42 for post-war 
reference. I think you're dreaming about post-war television. I 
think you know that if the Admiralty get this gadget, the Americans 
will have it within a matter of weeks. I think you reckon that could 
cost you a lot of the money which this thing can be worth in five, 
ten years . . .' 

'And you think,' Reuben interrupted, 'that you won't get your 
cut.' And, addressing an imaginary interlocutor, or perhaps one of 
his spirits, 'But this boy's sharp! At twenty-four he's outsmarting 
me!' And to Edward, shooting a pointing finger across the desk, 
'But not quite bright enough! Edward, you should know you can 
trust me. Your poor father, rest his soul, wouldn't' ve made such a 
mistake.' 

Edward turned from him and went towards the door. He said, 
'We don't talk the same language, Reuben. I'm going to phone 
S.S.O.' Edward faced him to say it. For a long time they stared at 
each other. Then Reuben took up the phone and said to the girl on 
the PBX, 'Get me S.S.O. Haslemere, Miss.' Edward sat down and 

149 



waited. They said nothing. Edward heard the conversation and 
when it was finished Lipschitz said, 'Satisfied?' 

'Perfectly.' 

As a resuh of this incident, Elham came into the laboratory two 
days later, watched in silence until Edward had finished monitoring 
a new pulse-shaping circuit on the oscilloscope, and then said, 
'You're to go down to Haslemere this pip-emma and see S.S.O.' 

'What's he want ?' Edward said, making a drawing in his note- 
book; he turned away from Elham to Adam Olby and said, 'It 
won't do. Try another six noughts one microfarads.' Elham walked 
out of the room without answering Edward's question. 

It was a fine day and Edward liked having to see Commander 
Pardoner who, when Edward arrived, had nothing amusing to say, 
however, and began on business at once. 

'We're very impressed with your adaptation of TFB to the 
PPI, Tillotson. You'll recall that we hadn't heard of it the last time 
you were here, when you asked after it. We've had the drawings 
and calculations and the prototype, since then.' He pushed some 
papers across the desk to Edward and added, in an only slightly 
burlesque version of a naval officer's manner, 'Carry on smoking if 
you want to.' Edward shook his head: Pardoner did not smoke, on 
the grounds that he did not want to add to either Mr. Mendoza's 
or the Chancellor's profits. Smoking in the company of a non- 
smoker made Edward feel contemptible. Mechanically, he picked 
up one of the drawings and Commander Pardoner said, 'Your 
work, of course.' 

'Olby did these finished drawings. As you know, I'm an amateur. 
The idea is mine, and the calculations.' 

Pardoner nodded and said, 'Look at the back of number two, 
will you ?' 

Puzzled, Edward did so: it appeared to be blank until S.S.O. 
said 'Bottom left corner' and Edward saw a faint pencil scribble in 
his own writing — Monica rang. Dentist not tomorrow but Friday 
the i^th. He smiled and said, 'Monica is Olby's wife. I suppose I 
had this on my table when the phone rang and I took the message 
for him. I'm sorry we forgot to tidy up.' 

'I see. It was unlike you, if I may say so, very unlike.' Commander 
Pardoner opened a drawer and took out a calendar and handed it 
across the desk and said, 'Find me a Friday the thirteenth.' 

Edward glanced at his face, which was deliberately grave; at the 
same moment Edward realized what Commander Pardoner thought 

150 



he had done: there had been no Friday the 13th since July; S.S.O. 
was under the impression that the pencilled memorandum had been 
left deliberately un-erased, a hint that Selectron had been with- 
holding plans which might be more profitably developed in peace- 
time. Edward decided that there was no need to undeceive him: 
he looked up from the calendar and said, 'July.' 

'Quite so. None since,' S.S.O. said and, taking back the blue- 
print, 'Thanks for the tip, Tillotson.' 

No more was said about it. S.S.O. was not a man to question an 
underling about his employers' goings-on, and was probably too 
experienced even to 'take the matter up at a higher level'. He talked 
about development plans for the new device until tea came and, 
when they were served, took a noisy sip from his cup and said, 'How 
would you like a change of ship ?' 

'Depends on what you mean, sir.' 

'I'd like you working for me.' 

'Here?' 

Pardoner's look was sharp : there had been in Edward's tone some- 
thing of his ulterior thought — that he would lose the only advantage 
he recognized in his reserved status, that of seeing Celia, who — 
'for Mother's sake' — had now promised to marry him 'soon', almost 
every day. S.S.O. said, 'No. Your base would be Llewellyn and 
Powel's, who do most of our first development production. You'd 
have an office there. You'd be shopping around a good deal.' 

'At their factory in Wales? It's in the Dovey valley, isn't it, near 
Machynlleth ?' 

'That would be one of the places you'd visit. But your office would 
be in London. Well ?' 

'I'll do whatever you advise, sir. But what would my work be?' 

'What the Americans call trouble-shooting. I am not satisfied 
we're getting things through as quickly as we could. New things, 
I mean. You have a sharp eye, Tillotson, and you know the gear.' 

'You know better than anyone that I have no degree or quali- 
fication of any kind. My TFB was a stroke of luck.' 

'It was, and I don't think you're likely to have many more. But 
I don't want a scientist, I want someone with nous.' 

Edward knew that he ought to have said, 'You think I left that 
pencil note on the drawing deliberately, or even invented the 
message. I didn't. It was a genuine oversight.' What he actually 
said was, 'If I'm to be working for you, where do Llewellyn and 
Powel come into it?' 

151 



Commander Pardoner sat back and said, 'That is the marrow of 
this bone,' and, 'Supposing I simply ask for you. You'll be an 
Admiralty civilian, with no establishment and say three hundred 
a year. What do Selectron pay you ?' 

'Five hundred.' 

Towel will pay you seven-fifty if you ask for it. Then I ask him 
to second you to me, we get Admiralty permission, and Powel 
makes his own arrangements with Admiralty.' 

'You've arranged this so that I don't lose by it, is that it, sir ?' 

'Why should you lose by it?' 

'I don't know, sir. Most people have to do what they're told in 
this war, and take what they're given.' 

'Have you any deep and powerful yearning to serve unrewarded, 
Tillotson?' 

'No, sir. I'm willing to do what's required of me. But ... * 

'But?' 

'It sounds odd, but there'd be compensations in being at sea and 
in uniform. It seems I'm not to do that. Well, if I have to be a 
civilian, I'd as soon do well out of it.' 

'Good. It's as I thought. I have mentioned the possibility to 
Powel, who is by way of being a friend of mine. No, that's too strong, 
such men have no friends. Let's say that we compose a mutual 
assistance partnership. Well, what do you say ?' 

'Yes, of course, and I'm very grateful to you.' 

It is possible that if Reuben Lipschitz had been in England, 
Edward's transfer to Llewellyn and Powel would not have been so 
easy. But Reuben was in America buying films in bulk for the 
entertainment of the forces. And all that Elham said was, 'Well, 
really, I don't know I'm sure .' 

Powel, ostensibly Edward's new employer, was impressive. 
Describing him to Celia, Edward said, 'He's nine feet tall and a 
yard wide, with a head like the Belvedere Apollo ' 

'I don't believe you know what the Belvedere Apollo looks like.' 

'Don't pick on me like that. I mean ' Edward went on to 

describe a nose which was perfectly straight from a noble brow to 
a wide, firm upper lip, a close cap of prematurely grey curls, and 
wide-set grey eyes, perfectly matched as to shape but 

'But what?' Celia said. 'I believe you make up things about the 
people you know.' This was so nearly true that Edward was silenced. 
He wished it had not been Celia who said it. Shortly afterwards she 
had a chance to see Powel for herself. Celia had made up her mind 

152 



that they should be properly engaged. When they decided to cele- 
brate Celia said she wanted him to take her to Flaubert's,. Edward, 
remembering Doris, flushed. If Ceha wondered why, she said 
nothing. They went to Flaubert's. Powel happened to be there, and 
at the first chance that Ceha had to comment on him what she said 
was, 'You never mentioned his over-bite.' 

It was a fact that the lower part of Powel's face did not quite 
match the upper part; there was a falling-off. And in alcoholic 
relaxation the points of two snow-white teeth rested on and dented 
the moist redness of the slack lower lip, giving the whole face the 
look of a lesser predator's, yet not so much weakening as debasing it. 
It was something he was conscious of as a blemish because as a rule 
the lower lip was held forward to cover the teeth, and it was that 
tension which gave the face its customary and intimidating pug- 
nacity. But this pugnacity was not apparent as he passed their table 
that evening, saw Edward, glanced at CeUa, and paused, saying, 
*Ed! I didn't know you frequented Flaubert's' 

Edward had only been at Llewellyn and Powel's for a month; 
Powel's use of *Ed' was not a mark of particular favour but of 
Powel's admiration for American manners. Edward, who was 
learning to use this same style when it suited Powel's mood, and 
which Powel himself called, for some reason, 'joshing', said, 'Oh, 
I don't. So there's no need to wonder where the money comes from 
and to start investigating my dealings with our sub-contractors.' 

'Me? First place, I'm not your real boss. Second place, I never 
stop a guy doing the best he can for himself. Introduce me.' 

'Celia, may I present Mr. Powel? Mr. Ezekiel Powel. Mr. Powel, 
Miss Woodreeve. Miss Woodreeve is my — my betrothed.' 

'I'm very happy to meet you. Miss Woodreeve,' Powel said; 
'I'm Zeke to my friends,' he went on, and Edward supposed that 
the American flavour about this, almost the American folk-lore 
flavour, made tolerable and even desirable what would otherwise 
have been merely absurd. Powel smiled and went on, 'What was 
that our friend called you again ?' 

'His betrothed, Mr, Powel. We don't see why we should use words 
like fiancee^ do you ? After all, to hell with the French, they wouldn't 
even fight the dam' war for us.' 

'There's Flaubert, though,' Powel said, 'he's a frog.' 

'We make an exception in his case,' Edward said, keeping it up, 
'owing to his unrivalled connections in the black market.' 

When Powel had joined his host or guest at his own table, Celia 

153 



made that point about his over-bite, and Edward said, *The problem 
is, did natural pugnacity lead him to thrust out his lower lip, or did 
the need to cover his over-bite make him as pugnacious as the face 
it makes him pull ?' 

'Character shapes the face,* she said. 

'That's the classic view. I don't believe it. I believe we wait till 
we see what we look like and then start being like that. I congratulate 
you on catching the right tone with him so promptly.' 

'It's practice,' she said. 'When Englishmen say they're happy to 
meet me with an accent like a good repertory actor playing an Ameri- 
can, there's a special convention for talking to them. You're not so 
bad at it yourself.' 

'He's a good deal more than a stage American,' Edward objected. 

'Obviously,' Celia said and, watching Powel across the room as 
he talked earnestly to the man he was dining with, 'Yes, a collector's 
piece. There's a sort of ... of conurbanity in his manner . . . Edward, 
why are we interested in Mr. Powel } He is large and handsome, but 
only another business man. He's not as pretty as me, or as you for 
that matter; and certainly not as intelligent.' 

'You're wrong. He is portentous. He's not just ^wother business 
man, he's the other business man.' 

'Now you're shooting the wrong line. Remember, please: / am 
the witty one*, you are serious-minded. We must begin as we mean 
to go on. Put me in the picture using a simple and direct style.' 

'Whenever there is an account in the papers of elaborate frauds, 
of long-firm swindles, of ennobled financiers in trouble for a spot 
of bond forging, of secret mergers, spectacular promotions, you will 
find a reference to "another well-known business man" who is 
never named. Powel is that man. He is what is called "coming". 
He will be quite here when this brawl is over.' Celia looked at him 
curiously when he had finished speaking : she seemed slightly taken 
aback. She said, 'Edward, you're changing. I'm not sure I like it.' 

'As Powel himself would say, I'm catching on fast.' 

'Well, all right — provided you can let go when you want to.' 

Edward had a bench and a stool in Llewellyn and Powel's London 
laboratories, but the only work he did there was tinkering with his 
voice-fabricator. His recognized work was nearly all for Commander 
Pardoner's department and in that work he was obliged to use an 
air of authority beyond what was justified by what Commander 
Pardoner called his 'terms of reference'. 

'You see, Tillotson,' Commander Pardoner had gone on to 

154 



explain, 'I need someone who can appear to carry weight but whom 
I can instantly and treacherously repudiate if necessary. That is the 
art of success in a hierarchy.' 

Edward was never sure whether to take this seriously or not. But 
the hollowness of his authority in putting pressure upon industrial 
suppliers which might at any moment be repudiated, if not exactly 
by his old friend, then by that friend's politically sensitive superiors, 
was teaching him to bluff. The matter of his bluffing was well within 
his own capacity; the manner was to seek. He took the best model 
to hand: Powel, whom Edward found himself understanding yet 
not quite despising. It is enormously difficult to despise success: 
Edward, at least, found it so, for when he tried to despise what, by 
the books (or, for example, according to Celia), was despicable 
in Powel, he found himself suspecting his self, that often burden- 
some companion, of base envy. 

Because, too, he had begun to wonder whether he could, in fact, 
'let go', as Celia put it, Edward did not answer her, but looked sulky 
and said, 'What do you want to do now ?' 

Tt's tiresome, but I think I ought to go home, I ought to relieve 
Mother when I can.' 

'Any change in your father's condition?' 

'None. He's just apt to die at any moment.' 

And not, Edward thought but did not say, to apologize like 
Charles H for being an unconscionable time about it. At least four 
times in the past few months he had fought off death until it seemed 
to Edward, who had sat with him a good deal for Celia's sake and 
her mother's, that his strength was drawn from a kind of hatred, 
a grim refusal to let the world go on living without him. The courage 
of his battle with the cancer inside him did not, at all events, have the 
face of courage which was familiar to Edward as to every able-bodied 
citizen of a belligerent city during those years. It may have been his 
misfortune that his 'faces', his appreciable conduct, gave an ill 
look to motives which may, after all, have been virtuous. That very 
evening Edward heard, in this connection, a singular tale from INIrs. 
Woodreeve. 

For when he and Celia reached Overbury Park Road and Edward 
had parked the car on the waste in which number fourteen now 
stood, supported by the standing remnant of ruined neighbours, 
CeUa relieved her mother in the sick-room. Edward sat with Mrs. 
Woodreeve while she ate a supper of bread and margarine and tea, 
and a small dish of stewed apples. She did not answer his question 

155 



about Mr. Woodreeve's condition, only smiled at him vaguely. 
Edward was uneasy with her because, ever since she had walked 
into that room and found Celia in his bed, she obviously felt guilty 
for having given him cause for shame. They sat in silence until 
she said, 'That's a very pretty ring you have bought for Celia.' 

Edward had made a joke of giving the ring to Celia, she of accept- 
ing it, saying that if it wasn't war-time she would expect, also, a 
white wedding at St. Margaret's, with a guard of honour composed 
of journalists and radio mechanics forming an arch with rolled 
newspapers and soldering irons. Yet Edward had satisfied something 
in himself by giving her a ring, a sapphire set in gold. To her 
mother's praise, he said, 'Mr. Powel helped me. He has a friend in 
the jewellery business.' 

Powel had such friends in every kind of business: not even his 
aspirin came from a shop. 

*A funny thing happened while Celia was out with you,' Mrs. 
Woodreeve said. *I heard a noise, like crying it was. He seemed 
asleep and I came out to look. Well, there was a white cat outside 
the back door, mewing to come in. It used to belong to the people at 
seventeen who were all killed in the raid. Goodness knows where 
the poor thing had been all this time. There she sat, looking like 
starving Russia; and that dirty! '*Why, moggy," I said, "what are you 
doing there.?" Silly the way we talk to animals, isn't it? As if they 
could answer. But it seems so ... so rude, not to. In she walks, as 
if she owned the place.' 

Mrs. Woodreeve looked at Edward and then away again. Her 
hands were still in her lap, the arthritic finger turned right in. 
'I couldn't very well turn it away,' she said. T gave it some of that 
dried egg we couldn't eat, that tasted mouldy. Pussy didn't mind, 
there was nothing wrong with her appetite, I'll say that for her.' 

T know you're fond of cats,' Edward said. 

T never told you about One and Two,' she said. 

'Only that you had to get rid of them.' 

'They started behaving queer,' she said. 

'Queer?' 

'It was Two, mainly. Shut the door of the room she was in, and 
she'd get frantic. She'd run to the window, and then to the door, 
asking to get out the way they do, crouching and wincing; if she'd 
been a person, you'd've said a nervous breakdown. Very unpleasant 
to see and nothing you could do but leave all the doors open which 
wasn't possible. Very upsetting.' 

156 



'It must've been.' 

*It was him.' 

'Him? Mr, Woodreeve?' 

'He couldn't abide them. I'd give them a httle bit of something 
off my plate sometimes, or a bit of cheese, cats are fond of cheese. 
He couldn't say anything, what with subscribing to the R.S.P.C.A. 
for years and getting up petitions and one thing and another . . . but 
it fidgeted him something shocking. He's done a lot of good in his 
time, only . . . only . . .' 

Edward suddenly realized that she was crying, sitting upright and 
quiescent in her chair with the tears running down her face, and for 
the life of him he could not be sure whether it was for the man who 
lay upstairs slowly dying, or for the cats he had done something to, 
although what he had done he still did not know. She went on, in 
the low and monotonous voice of extreme fatigue which she had 
been using all the time, 'He'd lose his temper with them, that's 
what it was. Take when the washing-up was being done, they'd 
come round for bits left on the plates. One night when I was feeling 
poorly and he did the dishes for me, I went out to get a glass of 
water and see if I could help and when I opened the kitchen door he 
was chasing poor Two round the kitchen and flapping at her with 
the dish-cloth, and his face . . . well, I don't want to think of it. 
And the door closed, so she couldn't escape, that's where it was . . .' 

The spectacle she thus evoked was risible to Edward. He was saved 
from any danger of betraying her by the smile which was forcing 
itself on to his face, when Celia came in and he could turn towards 
the door. Celia said, 'Mummy, dear, you'd better come up I think,' 
and her face said the rest. They left Edward and he sat waiting and 
when, after an hour, Celia came down, she said, 'This is miserable 
for you. You'd better go. Come in tomorrow.' 

'I'm on duty.' 

'Bloody fire watching?' 

'No, it's ambulance night.' 

'Friday, then.' 

* * * 

Mr. Woodreeve did not die that night. Edward telephoned to 
inquire in the morning. He had to go to Haslemere and on the way 
back to call at an assembly factory and start a row about an excessive 
percentage of faulty CR tubes in a recent consignment. He was back 
in London in time to go on duty at seven. He belonged to the same 
A.R.P. ambulance depot as Adam Olby, who was there that night. 

157 



Edward had not seen him for some time ; their duty nights had not 
coincided. Olby told him that he had recently been re-transferred 
to Kinesound, their old firm. He and Edward had their sleeping- 
corner on the floor of the underground garage. There had been no 
raids for months and they had grown used to long nights of sleeping 
and waking in their clothes, wrapped in smelly army blankets 
spread on stretchers. It was not until they were both settled for their 
four hours off watch, and Edward had lit a nightcap cigarette, that 
Olby said, 'Look, Tillotson, it's nothing to do with me and I don't 
know why I should bother, but there's something I think you 
ought to know. As I told you, I was on loan to Kinesound all last 
week, on that loud-hailer job. They're slack and have been doing a 
bit of post-war planning. I happened to see a couple of drawings — 
you never patented your FB, did you?' 

*No. Could I ?' 

*I don't know. In theory I don't believe in patents; the work of 
men's minds ought to belong to mankind. But since it's not like that, 
since what we've got is a sort of free-for-all, I don't see why you should 
be swindled by those sharks. Your FB arrangement appears twice 
in the circuits I saw . . . it's for post-war television, by the way . . . 
once in the amplifier, and once in the video circuit. It seems to me 
you ought to know.' 

Edward said he was grateful. *As a socialist I'd rather you had the 
money than that bloody little Yid conjurer,' Olby said. Edward 
flushed in the darkness, and said, Tt isn't that I haven't thought of 
it. But I can't take the idea seriously — of a peactime, I mean, when it 
will matter. This . . . this lying wrapped in dirty blankets on the floor 
of a cellar stinking of petrol ... it seems to me the way people live 
now. About the right level, if you know what I mean.' 

Olby laughed; he said, Tt's because you don't understand what's 
going on. If you'd do as I asked you and come to one of our 
meetings . . .' 

'Well I know, but I never seem to have time.' 

*The Red Army is on the move. There'll be a second front now 
all right. Our masters could stomach a Nazi Germany in control 
of Europe, but never a Communist Russia . . .' 

Edward did not listen to Olby's interpretation; he was incapable 
of attending to that kind of thing, it simply ran off the surface of his 
mind. Olby's words began to register when he said, *. . . and there 
will be peace within eighteen months. Then, for a decade, the 
catch-as-catch-can scramble will go on. And you might as well have 

158 



your cut. No point in winning a lottery if you never collect the 
prize-money.' 

Edward asked Powel's advice about patenting his FB. Powel 
suggested letting the firm's patent agent handle the business, 
and he gave Edward a letter to the man. Edward went to see the 
agent that evening and then dismissed the matter from his mind; 
or rather, had it put out of his mind when he went to Celia's on the 
Friday evening and met the doctor letting himself out of the house. 
Edward asked after his patient and the doctor replied that there was 
nothing to be done, that it was a matter of hours. And, standing with 
his hand on the door of his car, 'He's a brave man, Mr. Tillotson. 
For eighteen months he's known this was coming. Wouldn't have 
anything said to his wife. Didn't see why she should have the 
misery of it, too. Faced it alone. I've just been telling her how well 
I think he's behaved.' 

His words translated themselves into a rebuke and a reproach to 
Edward. But he was almost immediately offered a gloss on the doc- 
tor's words of praise: standing in the hall to take his coat off he 
heard Mrs. Woodreeve weeping, through the half-open back-room 
door; and Celia saying, 'Don't Mummy! God knows you've done 
all you can.' Then a short silence. Then Mrs. Woodreeve's voice, so 
far above its normal pitch as to be on the way to shrillness, and 
charged with an atrocious resentment, saying, 'Why couldn't he 
have told me ? Him knowing all that time and saying nothing to me. 
Wasn't I even to be allowed to be that much use? There was that 
time I bought him a tie and he told me he could buy his own ties 
and I'd do better to save my money. I tell you he did it to leave me 
thinking I never helped him, and for always feeling I never was up 
to helping him . . .' 

The white cat looked at Edward through the open kitchen door. 
It sat on the table. Already such disorders were invading the house 
of that most orderly man. Doubtless, Edward thought, the cat was 
poaching the dying man's game. Celia's voice said, 'You mustn't 
think that. Mummy.' Deliberately, Edward rattled an umbrella in 
the hall-stand. Celia came into the hall, her face grey, looking twice 
her age, not with grief, but with a kind of frustration, a kind of anger, 
perhaps at the overwhelming strength of the nearly dead. Edward 
said, *I saw the quack leaving,' and she said, 'Mother's in a state. 
And I ought to go up to him.' 

'Stay with her,' Edward said. 'I'll go up. Is he unconscious?' 

'Not all the time. Intermittently.' 



There was a disagreeable smell in the sick-room. Mr. Woodreeve 
lay perfectly still on his back. He had lost a lot of his hair and the 
loss had given him a philosopher's brow. The skin was yellow, loose 
over the bones of his face, and as shiny as if it had been varnished. 
He looked noble and dead. Edward drew near to the bed, unable to 
reconcile what he saw with the man implied by his wife's bitter 
complaint of a husband who had never had the generosity to accept 
anything, even sympathy. It seemed to Edward that Mr. Wood- 
reeve was attending to something, manifest to Edward only in the 
faint, persistent sickly stench which came from him. Death was a 
commonplace of every day then : like many able-bodied Londoners 
Edward had handled the dead as if they were so many indecent 
incumbrances. But this kind of dying appalled him, as he stood 
straining to hear what, obviously, Mr. Woodreeve was hearing, 
until he suddenly realized that it was the ticking of the old man's 
watch made resonant by the table top on which it lay: it was a gold 
half-hunter presented to him many years ago by some social or 
political body he had served. Mr. Woodreeve made a whimpering 
noise, and his hand, until then supine on the bedclothes, began to 
crawl, like a small, white animal, towards the edge of the bed with 
an extraordinary air of its own purpose. Edward moved round the 
bed and put the watch into his hand ; the dying man paid no atten- 
tion to him. His eyes became suddenly congested, and the veins 
below the glistening bone of the temple, swelled. Edward saw that 
he was making some kind of effort but he had no idea what its 
purpose was until, with a brief access of strength, Mr. Woodreeve 
flung the watch from him, his eyes dark with some kind of power. 
The watch crashed into the hearth, just short of the bright hot fire 
which had been consuming most of the household's coal ration for 
many weeks. Mr. Woodreeve made that whimpering noise again, 
and Edward picked up the watch and looked uncertainly from it to 
him. 'It's all right,' he said, 'it's still going.' Mr. Woodreeve heard 
and understood, for a look of angry despair came into his face, a 
message so clear that Edward instantly put the watch to his ear and 
said, 'I'm wrong. I'm afraid it's broken. It's stopped.' At that 
moment Celia came in and Edward took his eyes off her father and 
when, seeing a warning in Celia's expression, he again looked at the 
bed, Mr. Woodreeve's head had sunk into the pillow and the face 
was smoother, nobler than before. 

Hours later Celia said, 'Why did you have his watch in your 
hand?' The doctor had been again by then and written the certi- 

i6o 



ficate and Mrs. Woodreeve was in bed, drugged. Celia and Edward 
sat before the fire in the back room, transferred by him, on a shovel, 
from her father's room. He told her what had happened, but she 
pronounced no judgement. 



Although it seemed quite natural to Edward that his own official 
assignments, which were becoming more important as he showed an 
increasing shrewdness in negotiation, should make it difficult to 
fix an early date for their wedding, it was less easy to admit that 
Celia's work, too, must come before their private concerns. At first 
he had been sufficiently surprised at his own success in persuading 
people to follow courses chosen for them by his own judgement, to 
be modest; but what he had first attributed, under Commander 
Pardoner's guidance and Powel's sardonic and experienced eye, to 
the fact that ninety-five per cent of the human race is only too glad 
to have its mind made up for it by someone else, Edward was soon 
attributing to his own ability and force of character; so that when 
Celia could not make her arrangements suit his own, he was angry. 
They had several rows; and then, quite suddenly, Edward's opinion 
of himself seemed to collapse, he told Celia that he had been be- 
having badly and that the arrangements must be made to suit her. 
It was as if he had suddenly remembered that she might only be 
marrying him for her mother's sake. Celia was too generous to 
accept her victory on those terms — which she suspected of being the 
reason for Edward's sudden weakness — and said, 'There's no need 
to go to the other extreme. It should be quite possible to suit both 
of us.' 

She could not possibly know the real reason for Edward's retreat 
to humility. One evening, as he was leaving his lodgings with an 
overnight bag to catch a train to Portsmouth, where he was to spend 
two days doing sea-trials of a piece of gunnery control apparatus, 
Mrs. Campion ran after him with a letter which she had forgotten 
to give him that morning. Edward put it in his pocket and did not 
read it until he was in the train. It was the most unpleasant letter 
he had ever had in his life, and he was not even able to show the 
feelings it aroused in him for the railway carriage was crowded with 
naval officers returning from leave to their ships. 

i6i 



It was a solicitor's letter and as he began to read it he was trying 
to think of what bill he had failed to pay; as he read on, he was 
seized not at first with the rage of innocence accused, but by fear. 
He knew perfectly well that he was not the father of Eileen's child, 
which was what the letter accused him of. But he was at once as 
guilty as if he had been; and certainly it was by no restraint of his 
that such a condition had been avoided. When, re-reading the letter, 
Edward saw that his appropriate reaction must be righteous indig- 
nation at an outrageous attempt to blackmail him, this sense of the 
real guilt which underlay his superficial innocence was a grave 
handicap. Shysters was the word his self uttered, in an indignation 
Edward recognized as hollow, to describe the no doubt perfectly 
respectable firm of Ashersham soHcitors who wrote 'instructed by 
our chent Mr. Ernest Figgis'. Edward read the letter twice and 
decided that he needed help, if only in the form of a lawyer's assur- 
ance that this was no better than a disgraceful attempt on his pocket. 

When he reached Portsmouth he was entertained to dinner in 
the wardroom of a cruiser, but lodged ashore in the R.N. barracks. 
He slept badly and rose early. He could not dismiss that solicitor's 
letter from his mind. He was not due aboard the cruiser again until 
noon. It occurred to him that it would be a good idea to seek legal 
advice at once, in this place where he was quite unknown. As he left 
the dining-room and walked out into the hall of the oflficers' mess, 
he was wondering how to set about finding a lawyer. It was the 
petty officer doing duty as porter, and who turned out to be a towns- 
man, who gave him an address: *You can't do better, sir. I ought to 
know, I was a bailiff between the end of my thirteen, and this lot.' 

The partner in the firm recommended by this man, who received 
Edward, had a soft, dry voice and a way of dropping his terminal 
G's with archaic elegance. He inspired confidence. Edward began 
by giving him the letter to read and then told him the whole story, 
not even omitting the fact that the tale told to the coroner at the 
inquest on Arthur Figgis had been a little modified away from the 
truth. 

For his occasional work at sea Edward wore the uniform of a 
R.N.V.R. oflicer and, his responsibilities having increased, the sleeve- 
rings of a lieutenant-commander. As soon as he had finished his 
tale of woe, the lawyer shut his eyes and blew through his nose, like 
a horse before drinking, and said, 'So that intimacy, as we say in 
our mealy-mouthed courts, did not take place. Commander Tillot- 
son ? Anglicise, you did not have intercourse with this girl ?* 

162 



*I did not. I don't pretend it was for want of trying, but the fact 
is we were interrupted, as I've explained.' 

'Quite so. The law in these cases is concerned with facts, not with 
intentions.' 

He re-read the letter. Impatient, Edward said, *How do I stand?' 

'You will have noticed. Commander, that this letter does not 
threaten action . . .' The lawyer's calling Edward 'commander' was 
bothering him, introducing a fresh element of dottiness into the 
whole incident; it was as if he were obstinately refusing to address 
Edward's own self, and would talk to someone else who was not 
quite there. 'No; action is not threatened. It is, rather, an appeal to 
your better feelings. It implies that now that you have been apprised 
of the fact that you have a son, you will wish to contribute to his 
support and education, possibly even to recognize him. I take it that, 
in view of what you have told me, that is not the case ?' 

'Of course not. It's obviously a try-on.' 

'That I cannot, of course, say. I can say that the reason no action 
is threatened is that under the law of bastardy application for an 
affihation order cannot be made by or on behalf of the mother 
in the case more than one year after the birth, unless the alleged 
father has ceased to reside in England during that lapse of time; 
or unless he has acknowledged paternity de facto by voluntarily 
paying maintenance. Have you done so? The fees for the mother's 
lying-in would, in certain conditions, be regarded in that light.' 

*I tell you I had never even heard of any child until I opened this 
letter.' 

'Quite so. The child is now nearly three years old. Where is the 
passage . . . ah, yes . . . Miss Figgis resolutely refused to reveal the 
father's name until, during a recent serious illness, she confessed the 
whole truth to her uncle, givin him your name. Why should she have 
done so, Commander Tillotson ?' 

'She refused because she didn't know. If I know her, there was a 
wide choice. Ernest Figgis may have at last succeeded in bullying 
her into naming someone, perhaps by threatening to turn her out of 
his house. She named me because if she named anybody actually in 
the neighbourhood, they would certainly have denied it and made 
a row on the spot. Or . . . she may think that her knowledge of what 
really happened that day when her father died, or what she is pre- 
pared to say happened, will frighten me into paying up.' 

'She, and her uncle, are known to you as unscrupulous ?' 

'No. He is simply hard and ill-natured. She isn't unscrupulous. 

163 



She isn't anything definite. She would act like . . . like an animal, 
without forethought, doing the easiest thing for the moment.' 

* An image of our world, eh. Commander ? Have you seen her since 
the . . . incident ?' 

*No.' 

^Written, perhaps?' 

'No.' 

'She may have brooded; resented your neglect.' 

*I suppose so. The fact is, I never thought of her as ... as sl person 
... I mean a complete human being. Come to think of it, that's a 
rotten thing to have to say. But there it is. I know absolutely nothing 
about her, really. The thing is, can they take legal action against me ?' 

That was not, really, the thing at all. What Edward sought was 
absolution. But this man, who was a lawyer, not a priest, said, *No. 
That is, I doubt it. I certainly would not act for a client in such a 
case. I should not, I think, even have consented to write this letter. 
If the mother were destitute and the local authority took charge of 
the child, then they could act against you. I see no danger of that 
here, unless the uncle, this Mr. Figgis, throws the girl out, as he 
could do, of course. I find it difficult to see why this letter was written, 
except on the supposition . . .' He paused and Edward said, *Well?' 

Tt is not a question of law, and it is only guess-work. Commander 
Tillotson, but it is possible that the writer of this letter is a friend 
of Mr. Figgis's, a close friend, acting in his capacity as such. It 
would perhaps have occurred to them that while not in a position 
to take this case into any court, the circumstance of their claim 
reaching you in the form of a lawyer's letter rather than a letter 
from Mr. Figgis, would be more . . . impressive. No solicitor would 
have agreed, even as a close friend, to threaten action: it would have 
been too like blackmail. But I suppose that a solicitor's letter is 
always a little intimidatin'.' 

*I still do not know how I stand.' 

*In law, you stand in no danger. It is not for me to say what 
your own feelings will prompt you to do, should these people seek 
you out and confront you with the mother and child. Nor whether 
they are likely to do so. Their legal adviser will have apprised them 
of the position in law.' 

It might not be for the lawyer, but it was for Edward, to say what 
his feelings would prompt him to do. The problem of deciding this 
was in his mind throughout two rough days at sea. Despite the fact 
that he was not, could not possibly have been, the father of Eileen's 

164 



child, he could not rid himself of a sense of guilty responsibility 
which left him no peace of mind. For hours he dwelt anxiously on 
what Celia would say. He concluded that he was not afraid to tell 
her the truth if he could have done so: but in some extraordinary 
way he did not know what the truth was. He perceived, with painful 
clarity, that if he should recite the facts to her without a word of a 
lie, his manner would inevitably suggest consciousness of lying. He 
was utterly without faith in his ability to avoid a terribly destructive 
want of candour, while being, in fact, perfectly candid. He came, in 
fact, to a very singular conclusion : that he could with a better coun- 
tenance and less damage to their mutual confidence tell Celia that 
he had a son by Eileen, that is lie to her in a sense damaging (in the 
ordinary convention) to himself, than tell her the less damaging 
truth, that the Figgises, or at least Eileen Figgis, were trying to 
blackmail him. 

He was completely convinced by this the first moment it crossed 
his mind; and utterly baffled by it until he came to a second peculiar 
conclusion, a conclusion which was the beginning of self-knowledge : 
that the false confession he contemplated would match the sense of 
generalized guilt which debilitated him and that it would therefore 
make his confession sound true. His manner in lying to Celia 
would be honest and convincing because if he was innocent in fact, 
he was guilty in intention. 

Back in London, Edward neglected his work for a day to make the 
final arrangements for his wedding; and to telephone Eileen Figgis's 
solicitor, to whom he had already written a brief and formal note of 
repudiation. The name of the partner who spoke to Edward sounded, 
over the telephone, like OUowbun, and he had a kind of cockney 
accent. (It was David Mendoza who, much later, explained the 
difference between the grand, unwitting, Edwardian chic of that 
kind of cockney, and just ordinary London cockney.) He said, 'Ah, 
Mr. Tillotson, I rather thought we might 'ear from you.' 

*I don't see why. My letter . . .' 

*Told us a bit more than you thought, Mr. Tillotson. Any 'ope 
of seeing you ?' 

Tf I come I would want to see Eileen Figgis and this child of 
hers.' 

'Very proper sentiment if I m'y s'y so.' 

'You certainly may not say so, Mr. Ollowbun. There's nothing 
"proper" about it. But I knew half the chaps she went with. There's 
just a chance I might spot a likeness.' 

165 



The lawyer ignored that and said, 'There's a good train from 
Charing Cross to Ashersham at nine-five, if you're at liberty.' 

'Very well. I'll come to your offices,' Edward said; it would mean 
another day before reporting back. 

At Ashersham station he remembered his way to Valerian Street, 
one side of whose short length was what remained of the old city 
wall, its eponymous flower growing in pink and white profusion 
from every gap between the stones. The other side consisted of 
five early Victorian houses with crescent drives and laurel clumps. 
One was occupied by Messrs. Halloband, Parkes, Tett, Tett and 
Cavelin. Mr. Halloband had a presence made up of a thick walrus 
moustache, a gold chain over a satin waistcoat of sombre brocade, 
an extraordinary jacket of black vicuna not long enough to be a 
frock-coat and not short enough to be anything else. He had almost 
no forehead, but that meant nothing, except that the man who made 
his toupee was a bungler. He looked rather like a photograph of 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He said, 'Gottem in Cavelin's room. 
Cavelin won't mind, poor devil. Killed milkin' 'is 'ouse-cow at 'is 
plyce near Smarden, on D-Day. One of them doodle-bugs. Shockin' 
w'y to mike war, if you ask me. Well, sit down, sir, sit down. You've 
a proposal to mike, I dares'y.' 

*None whatever. I've already told you that I deny paternity. I'm 
here to put a final and definitive stop to this game of Ernest Figgis's. 
You've had the child blood-grouped, of course .?' 

*Blood-grouped ? God bless me soul, no!' 

'Well, if necessary, I shall insist on that. It happens that my own 
group is a rare one.' 

'How about seeing the mother and child?' 

'Very well.' 

Edward's heart began to thump disagreeably. He tried to control 
the muscles of his face. 

Eileen had not thickened, which was contrary to his expectation. 
She would not look at him. Nor did she look at the quiet, nervous 
little boy whom Halloband, with surprising kindness, held by the 
hand; in fact she seemed to be trying to pretend that he wasn't 
there. He said, 'Hallo, Eileen.' She said 'Hallo' to the window, and, 
with sudden passion, 'If it wasn't fer Uncle Ernie, I'd rather've . . .' 

'Just let me do the talkin'. Miss Figgis,' Halloband said. 

Edward was watching the boy. He had gathered that his name was 
Arthur. He said, 'Come here, won't you, Arthur?' The child looked 
at his mother and she, still looking at things rather than people, 

1 66 



said, 'Do as ye're told, can't you ?' The little boy came and stood in 
front of Edward who had the helpless feeling of a monoglot con- 
fronted with an alien. The child bore no likeness to him, that was 
one thing; nor, for that matter, to his mother. Edward suddenly 
remembered her, Arthur's mother, getting up from his lap in terror, 
and Figgis, that rectangular and ill-articulated primitive, lurching at 
him whitely in the hot cottage kitchen. Mr. Halloband's office was 
suddenly full of the smell of warm cake. Edward said to the lawyer, 
T want to talk to you alone.' 

For the first time Eileen looked at him. She said, *No, Ted, this 
is business.' 

'Then send the boy out,' Edward said. In front of him, he could 
not play his part; he was ashamed. Mr. Halloband rang the bell on 
his desk. When his clerk came in, he said, 'Arthur, go with the 
gentleman, like a good boy.' Edward was walking uneasily about the 
room. As soon as the child had been taken away he stopped in front 
of Eileen and said, 'You know as well as I do, I never fathered that 
boy. Look at me, Eileen.' 

She would not look at him; but he looked at her. She was prettier 
than she had been and she had lost none of the animal quality which 
had been so disturbing. She had gained, or rather acquired, perhaps 
from the need to defend herself against Ernest Figgis, a measure of 
slyness, almost of vulgar sophistication. For a moment she glanced 
up at him, then looked away, saying, 'You 'card what Mr. 'Allow- 
band said. He does the talking, not me.' Edward was looking down 
at her, hardly heard her answer, was genuinely curious and a little 
disturbed. He said, 'Did you nurse the boy yourself?' It was im- 
possible to picture her doing so; impossible and distasteful, just as 
it had annoyed him to see her making a cake. 

'I couldn't fancy it,' she said, for a moment speaking as naturally 
as she had done in the past. Edward turned to the lawyer and, in his 
need to feel much taller, much bigger, with his recent successes 
and what he saw as his 'prospects' in mind, and the knowledge that 
although he told Celia the truth he would feel that he was lying, 
would, in a way, be lying, he said, 'I'm no more Arthur's father than 
you are, and she knows it. I'll pay her three pounds a week till the 
child's off her hands. In return I want an affidavit, or whatever you 
call it, in which she admits the truth, that Arthur isn't mine.' 

He could hear himself saying this as he might have heard someone 
else; it was like reading dialogue in a book. Halloband said, 'I could 
not allow my client to sign any such . . .' 

167 



Til sign, all right,' Eileen said, before he could finish. She stood 
up and said, 'You're all right, Ted. You always were.' 

That was the assurance Edward had been after. Halloband said, 
Tt will be absolutely contrairy to me advice. Miss Figgis. The 
substance of yer claim on . . .' 

Tt has no substance,' Edward said. 

The lawyer looked at both of them, shrugged, said that he would 
give his clerk instructions, and walked out of the room. Edward 
stood by the window and looked out at the parish church. Someone, 
possibly his Aunt Sarah, had told him that it was very good of its 
kind. He knew nothing about that. It looked all right. Presently, 
from behind his left shoulder, Eileen said, 'Give us a kiss, Ted.' 

He turned round and did so, and she stepped back from him, 
saying, Tt was Uncle Ernie, not me. I . . .' 

Tt was you all right,' he said, 'but I forgive you. There isn't much 
I wouldn't do myself to get out of Ernie Figgis's hands.' 

It was immensely enjoyable, worth the three pounds a week he 
was not even sure of being able to pay her and had offered because 
nothing is easier than making grand promises. Halloband came back 
into the room and said, 'It will take us about two hours to prepare 
the two documents, your respective undertakin's.' To Eileen Ed- 
ward said, 'You'd better take Arthur to the pictures.' 

'Come too,' she said. 

'No, thanks. I shall get a taxi and go and see my Aunt Sarah.' 

'So you should, too,' Eileen said, with the righteousness which 
comes naturally to all women, albeit taken in sin, 'your uncle's a 
great worry to her.' 

'You mean he's ill ? I haven't heard for some time.' 

'It's 'is religion,' Eileen said. 'It'll be the death of your aunty 
I shouldn't wonder.' 

Edward recalled that some unsatisfactory condition of Walter 
Tillotson's conscience, some debility of his justification, had been 
mentioned in Aunt Sarah's last latter. Perhaps he had grown worse : 
strong religious convictions are often like strong drink abused : both 
imply an intense preoccupation with self and the problem of escaping 
from self; both lead to a neglect of business which may have grave 
consequences. And Edward saw, as he got out of the taxi and listened 
to the driver's superfluous explanation of what he would do with 
himself during his hour-long wait, that his uncle's property had 
started on the decline which affiicts the worldly goods of saints and 
alcoholics. Not that there was anything, yet, which could be described 

1 68 



as dilapidation. A visitor who did not know Walter Tillotson might 
not even have noticed the small and numerous heaps of rubbish not 
yet carried to the compost bins, or the three hens strayed beyond 
their proper enclosure; the greyness of unpainted glazing bars on 
the greenhouse roofs might have been attributed to the war, but not 
the few broken panes and the many which were green with algae. 
The war, Edward knew, had nothing to do with any of this : no war 
would have had any power against his uncle for as long as he was 
sure of justification. 

Sarah Tillotson came to the door and the marks of the same 
decline were in her face. Edward and his Aunt Sarah had always 
been very quick in understanding each other, and when she saw him 
turn his head to glance up at the warning of the Lord's imminent 
coming, she said without bitterness, 'Oh, he finds time to paint that, 
of course.' 

Edward followed her into the house, explaining where he had been 
and what, in theory, he had been doing. Of the war all she said, 
referring to the leaders, was, 'Well, I suppose they know what they're 
about. But us being so many, what with them Americans and 
Russians, and the others only the Germans, we've taken our time, 
if you ask me. There's times I wonder whether even Mr. Churchill 
. . . and yet they say he's a clever man. Well, there it is, on and on 
and on, and nothing to show for it. And as for the Committee . . .' 
she meant the War Agricultural Committee, '. . . it's nothing but 
nosy-parkering.' 

'Uncle having trouble with them?' 

She nodded: the Committee had powers to take over land which 
was not being used effectively. Edward followed her into the kitchen 
because Aunt Sarah insisted on putting the kettle on for tea. Edward 
put his arm round her shoulders and said, 'Is it altogether their 
fauk, Aunty?' 

'No, Teddy, it's not, and that's a fact.' She took the handkerchief 
out of his breast pocket and blew her nose violently. 

'I thought I noticed things,' he said. 

'You couldn't miss them, love, knowing him. He sits about, 
brooding. "You might as well set a cluck hen on a clutch of chalk 
eggs," I says, "for all the good squatting over your immortal 
soul's going to do you. It's like I've always said," I says, "you let 
Mr. Clintock ..." You haven't met him, Teddy, he's new to the 
parish. "You let Mr. Clintock look after your soul. That's no work 
for amateurs. Happen that'll leave you free," I says, "to attend to 

169 



Denne's bill. If it wasn't for the war and you being such an old 
customer," I says, ''they'd've county courted you for that matter 
of seventy pounds a twelve-month since." Of course, I shouldn't' ve 
said it, I know that, Teddy, with him not feeling himself. But he's 
as provoking as a schoolboy in love.' 

While Edward drank his tea he wrote Denne's a cheque for the 
seventy pounds and gave it to her. It would leave him with under 
a hundred pounds in the bank, but money was easier to get than what 
he was trying to buy with this cheque and Eileen's allowance. 
Aunt Sarah said, T'll take it, though 'd rather it hadn't been called 
for . . .' 

'Money doesn't matter,' Edward said, lied, interrupting her; 
and because she was a woman who never in her life mistook that 
kind of claptrap for truth, he added, awkwardly, 'I mean it shouldn't. 
Not between us.' She shook her head at that. 'Anyone can see you're 
a Londoner born,' she said. It was a reproach; it meant he had no 
proper principles. 

'The car driver will only wait for an hour,' Edward said. She 
nodded, and went out on to the porch where the honeysuckle plant 
had fallen from its supports and was sprawling, and rang the old 
hand-bell. And presently, still responsive at least to that earthly call, 
Walter Tillotson came stumping across the littered yard and into 
the house and said, absently, that he was glad to see Edward. He 
made no answer to an inquiry concerning his health and, speaking 
for him, loud and clear, as if he had suddenly become hard of 
hearing, his wife said, 'He's all right in himself.' But that, Edward 
thought, was just what he wasn't. He looked at him, at his shrunken 
face, his earth-coloured hands and clothes, and his slightly mad eyes. 
Aunt Sarah left the room to leave the two men alone together, but 
Edward had no idea what to say to the old man. In the end he had 
to make do with, 'You've got to think of Aunt Sarah.' 

'Have I ?' Walter Tillotson said, and, 'I'm not sure of that.' 

The car driver sounded his horn to remind Edward of the time. 
'But I'm sure,' he said. 

'I'm not sure of anything any more,' his uncle said. It was said 
with sudden, violent feeling, there was a cry of pain in it, of a protest 
he would afterwards think of as blasphemous. It was like a cruel 
light cast upon his condition. How could you clear a greenhouse of 
dead tomato plants and prepare it for another planting if you were 
sure of nothing any more? The truth Edward's uncle revealed in 
that cry of pain was outrageous. Edward was stung to anger and 

170 



said, *It's always seemed to me that your preoccupation with your 
own soul was selfish.' 

*0f course it's selfish,' Walter Tillotson said, testily, as if Edward 
had expressed the opinion that water is wet. 
* * * 

Mr. Halloband was waiting. Eileen had been back to his oflice, 
signed the paper and gone. Edward read quickly through both 
documents and signed his own without comment. Mr. Halloband 
looked at him curiously as he dropped the papers into a drawer, 
and said, 'It ain't professional, but I wonder why ye're doin' this.' 

*If you've got a banker's order,' Edward said, 'I'll fill it in and 
sign it. It'll save trouble.' While he was doing that, he answered the 
other's question with, 'I don't know. I've just left a man who's 
sure of only one thing, that there's no merit in works.' 

*Ah. Yer Uncle Tillotson. I've heard him preach.' 

'Preach?' 

'In Wesley's Pulpit.' 

'Good God! Did anyone go to hear him?' 

'A few.' 

Wesley's Pulpit was a rough, covered platform built of heavy 
timber on the top of Figgis's Hill. The site was supposed to be 
common land, was actually on the Sheffendene estate, but was 
never claimed by the lords of that manor. The pulpit was locally 
supposed to have been erected by Wesley's followers so that the 
great evangelist could preach to them. Mr. Halloband said, 'Yer 
uncle gave that up, too. There was no merit in that, either.' 

Edward waited while he locked the office and they went down to 
the street together. When they parted, the lawyer said, 'Yer uncle 
may be right. But I like your way better.' 

Because he liked the man, that made Edward feel fraudulent. 

One hundred and fifty pounds a year was going to be a heavy tax 
on Edward's income. He asked Powel about the patent business, for 
they had heard no news of it since the idea had been put to him, and 
an appointment was made for Groton, the patent agent, to come 
to the office and see both of them — Powel explained that he might 
have a proposal to make. 'It might suit you,' Powel said, 'to make 
some kind of satisfactory settlement before your wedding. Wednes- 
day, isn't it — of next week, I mean ?' 

'Yes.' 

'How much honeymoon are we giving you ?' 

Powel knew perfectly well what had been arranged, but Edward 

171 



only said, Tardoner said I could take a week if it's all right with 
you.' 

'Where are you going?' 

'Lloyd, down at the factory, has fixed us up at Beaumaris.' 

'Very nice, Ed. I just bought me one of those fishermen's cottages 
on the coast not ten miles away. The bass fishing is swell. It's not 
furnished yet, or I'd lend it to you.' 

'Thanks anyway,' Edward said. 

Groton was one of those men whose professional manner is such 
a smoothly finished artifice that it is not possible to say what kind 
of human being had furnished the raw material for this product of 
craft. He began at once by saying that they were dealing with a very 
smart man : 'As I expected, Mr. Lipschitz has taken out a provisional 
patent,' he said, with a kind of professional admiration for the 
smart man. Edward immediately became very excited and angry, 
at which Groton seemed surprised. 

'It's not unusual,' he said. 'It is always worth a firm's while to 
try it on. The inventor may not trouble if he is not himself a pro- 
fessional. Somebody may as well have the patent rights.' 

'And I just have to let it go ?' 

'Dear me, no. We shall start an action if necessary. In that case 
Aldington would be the man to brief. We call him the inventor's 
friend. He makes his fifty thousand a year out of patent cases. How- 
ever, I don't think it may come to that, these Kinesound people 
may give way.' 

'Don't you beUeve it,' Edward said. 'Lipschitz is psychic. He'll 
have had a green light on this from Rameses the Second or the 
prophet Elijah.' 

Mr. Groton tittered politely and said, 'I have no doubt of our 
succeeding at law.' 

'But, good God! I can't afford a case of that kind,' Edward said, 
*I haven't any real money.' At that Powel, who had apparently 
been reading a document on his desk, said, 'There's a point I want 
to make about that, Ed.' Edward looked at him and he went on, 
'I'm prepared to back you in this. For a consideration, as they say.' 

'What consideration?' 

'Why not let our legal people work that one out? Some sort of 
contract between us and you whereby we fight for your rights in 
return for exclusive exploitation of your patent for a given term, 
you being paid on a royalty basis. You might grant us an exclusive 
ten-year licence. From our point of view, it's a gamble: we don't 

172 



know how much difference your FB will make until we've built a 
prototype; and we don't know how important television is going 
to be after the war. From your point of view, it looks like that or 
nothing.' 

Edward looked at Groton who said, 'I'm afraid that is so, Mr. 
Tillotson, if you are unable to contemplate a suit at law.' Edward 
nodded and turned to Powel and said, *Well, all right then. I'll 
leave it in your hands.' 



Although the arrangements, such as they were, for their wedding, 
were made in all seriousness and Edward would not have questioned 
the proposition that he was going to be married in a week's time, he 
suffered a curious uneasiness about it. He wanted it to happen, it 
was going to happen, he knew this to be so; but he did not feel it 
to be so. Of course, all private acts were given a contingent quality 
by the long-continued public act of war, but Edward's feeling that 
his future and Celia's was precarious was not due to the uncertain- 
ties implied by the war. It was almost as if he had been present to 
overhear a conversation between Celia and her mother which took 
place a couple of weeks before the wedding day. 

Mrs. Woodreeve had been ill at ease not only with Edward but 
with Celia since she had found her daughter in bed with Edward: 
she had difficulty in looking at Celia and in talking to her naturally. 
There was no reproach in this uneasiness, but rather a kind of apolo- 
getic self-deprecation, as if she felt a need to be forgiven for having 
blundered into the privacy of her daughter's life and, having done 
so, for being unable not to be unhappy about what she had seen. 
She was like a cripple who, by his attitude, constantly apologizes for 
his incapacity. 

When she had told Edward that she 'would not want to interfere' 
she had gone as far as she could in refraining from putting pressure 
on her daughter's lover: for, after what she had seen, she did want 
them to be married. She would have had difficulty in saying why, 
for she would have admitted that she did not believe in God and 
could, therefore, have no feeling that sexual intercourse ought only 
to be done under priestly licence. It may be that all her life she had 
been afraid of the powers that be, the Them of common speech, 

173 



and knew that it is extremely dangerous to do anything at all without 
official sanction. 

Mrs. Woodreeve had another cause for uneasiness: she had 
admired but never quite understood Celia's bold contempt for all 
criteria but her own consciousness of knowing what was right and 
what wrong; and she had always been a little confused by Celia's 
often frivolous and even outrageous way of expressing herself on 
the subject of conventional conduct, established morality and 
accepted ways of feeling. She was by no means certain that Celia 
wanted to marry Edward; she knew her daughter loved her; she 
was afraid and worried lest her own attitude which, irrational as it 
was, she could not change, might be forcing Celia to marry. She 
wanted Celia and Edward married but it would be terrible to her if 
she had to consider that marriage as a sacrifice to her feelings, which 
the young people did not share. 

One evening when Celia came home from work tired she was 
irritated by her mother's rather hang-dog looks and said, 'Do cheer 
up, Mummy. Anyone would think next week's occasion was a funeral, 
not a wedding.' Celia could say this because she knew that her 
mother was no longer grieving over her husband's death or, if she 
was, kept her grief for private indulgence. As her mother said 
nothing, Celia rose and crossed in front of the fire and knelt by her 
mother's chair and took her hands and said, *You aren't happy about 
this wedding, are you, darling?' 'Of course I am,' Mrs. Woodreeve 
said, but she had noticed that Celia had said 'this' and not 'my' 
wedding. 'Well, I must say you don't look it. Mummy.' 

Mrs. Woodreeve made a great effort and said, 'Celia, you do know 
I wouldn't want you to do anything, I mean very important, against 
your own feelings, just because I ' 

Celia, interrupting her, said, 'What are you talking about, 
dearest ?' 

'If you don't know, Celia, there's no more to be said.' 

'Good,' Celia said, and kissed her. But just before going up to bed 
for an early night, Celia said, 'Marriage isn't irrevocable nowadays.* 

She had not meant to say this aloud but it had been so much in 
her thoughts that it had said itself. Her trouble was similar to that 
of the politician who is almost convinced by his own propaganda 
which he knows perfectly well is not based on truth. From her six- 
teenth year she had realized that her beauty was a worldly asset in 
exactly the same spirit as an ambitious man knows that his brains 
are a worldly asset. Her beauty, carefully used, could bring her 

174 



success, that is to say large possessions, by enabling her to marry 
a man of consequence and wealth. These ideas came to her despite 
her upbringing and her own strong feeling that they were, for some 
reason, base. It was impossible for her not to entertain such ideas, 
they were forced on her by the whole spirit of the age, by the conduct, 
as described in the Press, of the people most in the news, by the 
absence of any standard of success but wealth. But she had resisted 
them not simply because she accepted the convention that they were 
wrong, but because, although she could not dismiss them, they dis- 
gusted her, as the sensual dreams and images which the state of his 
glands force upon a man chaste not only by training but by nature, 
disgust him. Despite his disgust, such a man cannot dismiss those 
images and dreams; despite her disgust, Celia could not help 
knowing that by marrying a man of no consequence she would be 
disposing of an assiet disadvantageously. 

Celia was in love with Edward Tillotson and for most of the time 
she wanted to marry him. But this wish seemed to her, at other 
times, silly. She had said, time and again, that an ordinary marriage 
for love was a bad bargain for a woman capable of making her own 
living; that in the world as men, not women, had made it, a woman 
who did not use her beauty, if she happened to have any, to marry 
money and power, was obviously a fool. And if any man present 
protested, she would point to the covers of such magazines as were 
lying about, to the careers of several large-breasted cinema actresses, 
to the histories of half a dozen queens, kings' mistresses, noblemen's 
or millionaires' wives, and say, 'Tu Fas voulu, Georges Dandin.' 
But although she could not get away from the logic and intelligence 
of these opinions, which jumped to the eye, she could not really 
accept them, either. They were repulsive, and her mind held them 
despite her heart. In her feminism, Celia refused to realize that what 
is sauce for the gander is not always sauce for the goose, although 
as an admirer of Stendhal she should have noticed his disastrous 
failure to bring Lamiel, his female version of Julien Sorel, to life. 

Four days before the wedding her editor sent for her and nodding 
to the chair across his desk, handed her a cablegram which announced 
that Graham Cohen, assistant to McFadden who for four years had 
been the paper's principal correspondent in America, had been 
killed in a motor-car accident. Celia said that she had never known 
young Cohen but was naturally very sorry. The editor said, 'The 
New York and Washington offices are very important, of course, and 
McFadden has made them even more so. He needs someone at once 

175 



and I haven't much opinion of any of the younger men over there. 
I'd have sent Costello, but he's with the American fleet in the Pacific' 

CeHa knew what was coming and was so exultant that she had 
great difficulty in keeping a broad smile from forcing its way on to 
her face. The editor looked at her, frowning, and said, 'Let's see, 
when is this wedding of yours ?' as if it were a matter of her summer 
holiday. In the same spirit CeHa, without hesitation, replied, 'If 
you are going to offer me the job, don't bother about that.' And, 
honestly speaking aloud what were her own thoughts of a post- 
ponement and of how it would affect Edward, and her mother, she 
added, 'A few months' delay won't make any difference.' 'Remark- 
able loyalty to the paper,' the editor said, with dry distaste: he was 
a man over fifty and although Celia's attitude to her wedding suited 
him, he really felt that she should have put marriage before anything 
else. Ceha, who saw what was in his mind, and who was incapable 
of pretending that loyalty to the paper was really her motive, said, 
'It's a chance nobody would want to miss.' 

'You'd have to leave tomorrow.' 

'I can do that.' 

'Very well. I'm not sure that I'm doing the right thing, but I hope 
so. It's a great chance for you, McFadden is the best foreign cor- 
respondent living. Don't throw it away.' 

While he was talking, the editor had pressed his bell and when his 
private secretary came in, he told her to 'Get Miss Woodreeve onto 
the Carmatic with all her papers in order.' 

There was very little time to do all that was necessary : Celia had 
to go to the passport office, the United States Embassy, the bank and 
the Shipping Office, at each of which there were delays while clerks 
and executive officers wrote on those innumerable pieces of paper 
and wielded the rubber stamps which sustain the illusion that they 
have the world in hand, that chaos and old night are being kept at 
bay, and that they are doing useful work. Celia, however, enjoyed 
this nonsense; had she had nothing to do but, as in the almost 
forgotten brief age of liberty, to walk aboard a ship and go to America, 
the thing would have been much less exciting. She telephoned her 
mother to pack for her and avoided all but the sketchiest explanation 
by saying that she had no time to talk but would tell her about it 
that night. 'I shall be late,' she added, and sat for a minute before 
the telephone fighting down the irrational sense of guilt, of being 
about to do something cruel, which possessed her spirit at the idea 
of teUing Edward. 

176 



The PBX girl at Llewellyn and Powel told her that Mr. Tillotson 
would be out all day. She asked for Mr. Powel who said, 'Miss 
Woodreeve? How nice! Ed's down at Haslemere. Something we 
can fix for you ?' 

'it's important, Mr. Powel. I want to be absolutely certain of 
meeting him tonight. Can I get him at Haslemere ?* 

'You might not. He's gone to see a man called Pardoner. They 
may go out to a production plant near Guildford. You'd best leave 
it to us to reach him for you. Where do you want him to meet you ?' 

T don't know — well, Flaubert's^ perhaps, say at seven-thirty.' 

'O.K. Leave it to us.' 

Celia had been waiting ten minutes at Flaubert's when Edward 
came in. Flaubert had stood over her for part of the time, saying 
that although he hardly had anything he could really recommend, 
she no doubt did better to come to him, for there was nothing even 
fit to eat elsewhere in London. And, when she hesitated over 
ordering a drink, ^Comtne aperitif, j' at toujours quelques bouteilles de 
chamberi.' 

She was drinking chamber! when Edward came in, looking strained 
and rather dirty and saying at once, as he fell into a chair, 'What is 
it ? What's gone wrong ?' 

Celia had intended to be as honest with him as she had been with 
her editor and herself. But she found herself presenting the matter 
in quite a different way and although her own dishonesty was dis- 
tasteful to her, she went on in the same spirit, saying that Graham 
Cohen's death had put the paper, the editor, 'and your old acquain- 
tance McFadden' in a very great difficulty, that there was nobody 
but herself to send, that she did not see how she could very well 
refuse 

Edward interrupted her to say that, besides, it was a wonderful 
chance for her. He tried to say it warmly and happily, as if he were 
delighted and did not mind the postponement of their wedding. 
And in a way this was so, nor was it the postponement of the wed- 
ding which so offended his self that he had the greatest difficulty 
in stilling its clamorous protests. It was Celia's success, Celia's 
wonderful luck, Celia's new importance, the triumph of her self, 
which were so hard for his self to bear. He drank a chamberi and 
went to wash and they had dinner. Edward insisted upon buying 
one of Flaubert's remaining bottles of champagne to drink to Celia's 
success. It was very dear and champagne was a wine neither of them 
liked, but he had to do something active to put down the resentment 

177 



which his self kept forcing on him hke a beggar displaying a repulsive 
mutilation. Celia kept saying, *0f course, it will only be for a month 
or two. Only a few weeks, really.' Both of them knew that she could 
not really be wishing this, for only a failure could bring her home so 
soon. If she did well the real date of their next meeting and pre- 
sumably of their wedding could not be until she was given home 
leave, which might not be for a year. 

Because of his increasing responsibilities and the fact that they 
often kept him late out of London or in the laboratory, Edward had 
been released from civil defence duties. He could have gone home 
with her, but he told her that he had urgent work to do in the 
laboratory. He was afraid of and upset by the feelings of anger and 
resentment which Celia's good fortune had forced on him. He tried 
to pretend that they were nothing but disappointment about the 
wedding postponement and grief at parting from her. But his 
increasing knowledge of the way his self behaved was too strong for 
him. And just as, once, he had been horrified to see his own face 
caricatured by his father's as they appeared side by side in a looking- 
glass; so now he was horrified by the image of him which his self 
insisted on bringing to his notice. 

They parted awkwardly and uneasily that night, each conscious 
of doing evil. But in the early morning, at Waterloo Station, on 
the platform beside the boat-train, there was a much better moment 
when they kissed and clasped each other, with nothing in their 
hearts but the distress of parting and nothing in their minds but 
the wsh that there was nothing in the world to tempt them from 
loving each other. 

* * * 

When Celia came home from America the Allied armies were 
across the Rhine. She had been away for seven months so that 
although her return was not in triumph, nor was it in disgrace. 
But it seemed that she felt it needed apologizing for, that she had 
not been a great success and this was not due solely to the fact that 
as soon as her colleague Costello was released from his assignment 
with the United States Pacific Fleet and landed in San Francisco, 
he was posted to McFadden's office and Celia ordered home. There 
had, in fact, been a very unpleasant moment for her a week before 
she left New York. McFadden, just back from Mexico City, had 
sent for her, told her to sit down, explained that Costello was on his 
way to replace her and, without pausing, had added, T think I'm 
bound to tell you that my report on you will have reservations.' 

178 



Celia had flushed and said, resentfully, 'I'm sorry.' 

'You're a pretty fair journalist, Celia, and you're a worker. But 
you've too good an opinion of yourself.' 

'I haven't the slightest idea what you mean.' 

*You'll probably do well enough at home. But, man, when you 
work among foreigners you won't get far if you make them feel that 
you dislike them!' 

Instead of denying that she had done this or expressing contri- 
tion, CeUa had said angrily that 'despise' was the word. McFadden 
had looked at his finger-nails as if this embarrassed him. Then he 
had said, 'Aye, that's it. I'm nearer sixty than fifty and I never man- 
aged to despise a whole people. You'll sail on Tuesday.' 

Celia had walked, red-faced, out of his office. 

She was not a woman who ever found it easy to apologize. Edward 
had long since realized that, in the language he had picked up from 
his Uncle Walter, she did not know what it was to be unjustified, 
and knew herself right by grace. Edward met her at Southampton 
and on the way to London she made an entertaining and rather wild 
story of her relationships with Americans. 'Talk about fighting for 
one's honour,' she concluded, 'and, my dear, the food! No wonder 
they're sub-human, poor dears!' 

Edward was embarrassed by her insistence on justifying her failure 
by making savage fun of the people she had been working among, 
and he would have been willing to drop the subject and talk about 
the future, about their wedding, which was to take place in a week's 
time. But Celia kept reverting to the Americans. Once she said, 
'Did you know that when they adopted the European standard of 
health for acceptance into their army, they found themselves re- 
jecting all but twenty per cent of their conscripts?* 

'Oh, really?' 

'There's something terribly wrong with that country. Perhaps it's 
the soil or the climate.' 

'They're doing some pretty good work in the sciences,' Edward 
said, dryly. To which Celia replied, 'With imported Europeans, 
mostly.' 

They had both arranged for a week's leave following the wedding 
and resumed the plan to spend it at Beaumaris. Edward's Aunt 
Sarah came up from Goudhurst to be his witness; Celia's was her 
mother. His aunt and he arrived at the Maiden Lane registry office 
a few minutes before it opened. Mrs. Tillotson was still explaining 
why Edward's uncle had decided not to come to the wedding — 

179 



something to do with his 'justification' being again in doubt; she 
made it sound Hke any other elderly wife talking of her husband's 
'old trouble' — when Mrs. Woodreeve arrived alone, saying, even 
before Edward had a chance to introduce her to his Aunt Sarah, 
that Celia would be along in a few minutes, she had called at her 
office on the way. Edward was annoyed and depressed by this 
casual behaviour. He introduced the two women and they went into 
the registrar's office, and Celia came in a minute or two later, looking 
very beautiful in a blue linen suit bought in New York. She was 
smiling with the excitement not of her wedding but of her news, 
which she gave without preamble — *The Germans have surrendered 
to Monty.' 

Edward felt resentful: he might have no very solemn notions of 
marriage but it was not agreeable to have an event of such over- 
whelming public importance competing with him on his wedding 
day; it made it difficult to concentrate. And Celia at once made it 
worse by saying, 'Darling, it's complete hell, but Beaumaris is off. 
I've got to stand by to go to Germany with Mordaunt. My first 
feature job. All colour and no facts, you know the kind of crap.' 
Edward glanced nervously at his aunt, but evidently the word 
meant nothing to her. He said, *I see,' and Celia, 'Oh, it's not as 
bad as that. If I go, I'll be back inside a week. And they'll only send 
me if Marion's 'flu isn't better by tomorrow . . .' 

She went on explaining while Edward fell deeper into sulkiness 
at being thus relegated to a secondary place. Only a lucky fit of 
sneezing saved him from snarling that he could not see himself 
hanging about waiting while she did her sob-sistering. His aunt said, 
'Now he's caught a cold,' rather as if Celia's news was responsible 
for this catastrophe. Mrs. Woodreeve said, *I think the man wants 
us now.' 

The registrar, having overheard Celia's announcement, was not 
very interested in marrying them. When they approached the table 
he said, 'There was a power-cut at Palmers Green this morning, so 
I missed the wireless news. I couldn't help overhearing what you 
said . . . ?' Ceha said that the news had not been released, and re- 
peated it, with additional details, and when the registrar shook his 
head and referred gloomily to the prevalence of misleading rumours, 
Mrs. Woodreeve said, quite huffily, that her daughter was on a 
newspaper and ought to know, and named the paper. 'I always read 
the Express myself,' the registrar said, as if making up his mind to 
wait for Lord Beaverbrook's confirmation of the news. Celia, her 

1 80 



professional pride stung, said, *Ah, the no-war-this-year-or-next 
paper.' 

'We all make mistakes,' the registrar said, and at once began to 
marry them, reading the preamble with conscientious clarity. (Later, 
Edward's aunt was to remember this and say that 'it wasn't much of 
an omen to introduce a marriage ceremony'.) 

Married, they walked out into bright and windy sunshine, Aunt 
Sarah saying, 'May I be the first to congratulate you, Mrs. Tillotson }' 
and Celia, 'Oh, dear, yes, thank you, that's my name, it sounds so odd.' 

Peace of mind was not to be restored to Edward that day. They 
walked — Powel had objected to his excessive use of petrol coupons 
— to a photographer's in the Strand (Mrs. Woodreeve had insisted 
on this), Celia and Edward leading, once letting their little fingers 
touch and entwine for a second as if each were anxious to reassure 
the other. Their witnesses followed them, Edward's aunt with her 
busthng, hen-like movements, Mrs. Woodreeve with the short, 
tight steps which were an expression of her reserve. Edward could 
hear Aunt Sarah talking steadily, and from time to time Mrs. Wood- 
reeve saying, 'There now,' or 'Fancy' or 'Who'd have thought it?' 
Their progress was impeded by the obligation to turn round from 
time to time and say that it was not far now and to smile. The midday 
evening papers were on the streets and people were standing to read 
the front pages. After they had been photographed they managed 
to find a taxi. The driver did not want to go to Overbury Park, 
saying that he was short of petrol. There was a brief triumph of 
Edward's mood over Celia's when the taxi-driver failed to respond 
to her 'Oh, come on George, we've just been married !', but responded 
at once, albeit with a scowl, to the pound note Edward put into his 
hand. Inside the cab Celia said, 'They've all been corrupted by 
dollars. The shape of things to come.' 

Mrs. Woodreeve's rations had been sacrificed extravagantly to 
the wedding feast; Aunt Sarah had added a dozen eggs and a half- 
pound of butter. Powel had sent two bottles of Mumm. Half-way 
through the meal and when, despite Mrs. Woodreeve's efforts, they 
were all silent, the telephone rang and Celia said it was for Edward. 
It was Powel, saying, 'Married yet?' 

'Yes.' 

'My congratulations. You're a lucky man. But the luck's a bit 
postponed, old boy. Look, I hate to do this to you, but you'll have 
to get back here right away. S.S.O.'s yelling for you. Admiralty 
want to borrow you, wedding or no wedding.' 

i8i 



'That's a bit much,' Edward said. 

*I daresay, but I can't help that. They're short of know-how in 
some kind of flap over the other side. C'est la guerre.' His accent 
was even more American when he spoke French. 

Edward's complaint had been merely formal. In reality, this 
summons had set him up again. His self sang a little song of triumph. 
He loved Celia; her presence transformed, transmuted, the common- 
place world into a place of brilliance and warmth and pleasant sounds. 
Yet it was with difficulty that he suppressed his high spirits to 
announce 'Admiralty want me at once on the other side.' 'We don't 
have any luck, sweetheart,' he said, resuming his place at the table. 

'What have you to do ?' 

Not knowing, he invented, the implication of top-secrecy en- 
abling him to be both vague and brief. Celia said, 'Why the hell does 
it have to be you?' 

'You cannot be more surprised than I am,' he said, but showing 
that he was disconcerted. Celia saw that and said quickly, 'I didn't 
mean that, you clot! Darling, I was addressing the Almighty, not 
you!' 

Sharply, for her, Edward's aunt said, 'I'm not surprised Edward 
didn't realize it.' 

'Dear Mrs. . . . dear Aunt Sarah,' Celia said, filling Aunt Sarah's 
glass, 'you'll have to bear with me. I have a loose tongue.' 

'As long as your heart's in the right place, which I'm sure it is,' 
Aunt Sarah said, and Mrs. Woodreeve, sourly, *I can answer for 
that, Mrs. Tillotson, though I say it as shouldn't.' 

They finished the wine and left Aunt Sarah who was staying the 
night with Celia's mother, and went out and walked to the bus stop 
together. There was a painful constraint on both of them. In the 
bus, to break it, Edward said, 'I don't know how to deal with an 
anticlimax like this.' 

'Perhaps we should've waited,' CeUa said. 

'I didn't want to,' he said, and, 'You can wait a lifetime for 
politicians and soldiers to stop their tantrums nowadays.' 

'Nor did I want to,' Celia said, hastily, catching up in the game of 
reassuring each other. She went on, 'And you're right. If we let 
them get away with it, all we'll be is constituents. Constituents is 
what most people are now.' 

'Politician fodder.' 

'Yes.' 



[82 



6 



PowEL said, 'I don't know much so don't keep asking questions. 
You're to put on your uniform and go to a place called Deuxbacs. 
It's in Normandy. There's a mine-laying flotilla there, fitted with 
our L.I 2 detector. It's playing up. There's a top-brass Frog named 
d'Argenlieu going to see it, and it's got to be behaving right time 
he gets there. Report to a guy named Jones — Commander Jones. 
Haslemere have sent you warrants. You can draw on us for dough. 
O.K. ?' 

Edward had turned to go when Powel said, 'I almost forgot. 
That agreement over the TFB patent. It's ready for signature, at 
Groton's office. Want to sign it before you go ?' 

'When I get back,' Edward said. 

Deuxbacs is a dirty little fishing port, no more than a village, near 
the mouth of the Vire. Its climate is rain, or at best a kind of Scotch 
mist. Its Senior Naval Officer was an elderly R.N.R. commander 
with a beard in which his fingers were for ever poking and scratching 
angrily, as if seeking something they, but not he, had lost. He said, 
surlily, that all he was there for was to hold squatter's rights against 
the U.S. Navy, and to brood over a pile of stores for the flotilla 
which was mine-sweeping the bay. When Edward inquired about 
his mission, *Jones?' he said, 'he's out sweeping the bay. Be ashore 
in a day or two. I've no billets. You can sling a hammock here, or 
you can take a room at Audouart's. I'll pass your expenses, but 
don't overdo it.' 

'Audouart's ?' 

'The cafe. He has four rooms to let. Jones keeps one for sleeping 
with his tart. Don't touch Audouart's calvados, it's not six months 
old and no better than skimmins.' 

Edward did not know what skimmins were, but confined his 
drinking to Audouart's hard cider. The cafe proprietor was a drunken 
lout with a nose mutilated by a syphilitic lesion of which he was by 
no means ashamed. Teaching Edward to play billiards in his back 
room, during two days of soft, drenching, exasperating rain, the 
smug rain of Normandy, Audouart told him about the Tunisian 
brothel where he had contracted the disease, and, proudly, about the 
physiological singularity which had made it impossible to treat him 
with sulfa drugs. The toubih had poured several litres of mercury 

183 



into his veins. And his hideous disfigurement had its uses : persons 
ignorant of the ravages of syphiUs sometimes took him for a gueule 
cassee and gave up the specially reserved corner seats in railway 
carriages to him . . . His fighting had been done in the bled, against 
the Riff led by a sort of super-sheikh called Abdel Krim or something 
of the kind. That was war, that was. What did vous autres, safe 
behind your machines, know about it? Look at that species of a 
commander who passed his time hunting for fleas in his beard! 
He did not say it to oflFend Edward, far from that, but was that war ? 
Ah, poor France ! 

To Jones, when that officer came ashore and who treated him with 
open contempt, Audouart was servile — 'Out, mon capitaine, de suite, 
mon capitaine, parfaitement, mon capitaine . . .' accompanied by a 
miUtary salute and a smile, intended to be whimsical, but which was 
made grotesque by the absence of half his nose. Behind his back, he 
referred to Jones as 'ce petit saligaud' or simply, but with loathing, as 
'TEnglisch'.] ones was a small, white-faced, almost albino man whom 
Edward at once guessed to be rich, for his manner had that hard 
assurance which is a bought commodity and comes dear. With 
lucid intelligence he explained what the L.12 detectors were doing 
wrong and why his flotilla radar and torpedo officers had been 
unable to deal with the trouble. Edward said, 'You'd better take 
me to sea for a couple of days, while I fix the things for you.' 

'All right.' 

Edward spent two sunny, busy, pleasant days mine-sweeping with 
Commander Jones. One of them was VE Day, but the war seemed 
very remote ; it was like being out with the fishing-fleet. Then they 
came in again. Edward's orders were to wait until the inspection 
was over. He and Jones had an afternoon's sailing in the estuary, 
in a steady downpour of rain, Jones being an experienced yachtsman. 
There was a very high wind — Jones called it a stiff breeze — and 
twice Edward was badly frightened. On the second occasion, with 
the boat skidding on its side, Edward yelled at Jones, 'Isn't this 
dangerous ?* 

'What do you think.? Can you swim?' 

'About fifty yards.' 

It seemed to amuse him; the nearest land was quarter of a mile 
away. That night, over dinner, Jones said, 'The best way to enjoy 
life is to risk it. Ever done any gliding?' 

'No.' 

'You should try it. The best game of all.' 

184 



*Do you really believe that — about risking life ?' 

'Why the hell should I say so if I didn't? Have you tried Au- 
douart's calvados ?' 

The power of his curt assurance, the mockery of his pale eyes, his 
hard courage, all overcoming the handicap of his poor appearance, 
were impressive. To his question Edward said, 'Another big risk ? 
I was warned against it.' 

*0h, not the rotgut he sells his customers. He's got some seventy 
years old. Keeps it in his bedroom.' 

Jones ordered some, and insisted on keeping the bottle. He 
always spoke to Audouart in a loud and hectoring voice and in 
English. Audouart, who claimed to know no English, seemed to 
understand him. 

'The point is,' Jones went on, 'men, males, are meant to risk their 
lives all the time. If they don't they go to pieces. It's why miners 
are the only proletarians with what the Spanish call honor. And a 
few deep-sea fishermen, perhaps.' 

'Meant by what or who?' Edward said. Like fiery whey the 
calvados slid down his throat leaving an aftertaste of apples and a 
faint bitterness. 

'By nature,' Jones said. 'One male can fecundate twenty or more 
females, probably many more, a hundred if you allow for eighteen 
months' intervals between pregnancies.' 

'Rather tiring,' Edward said. 

'Call it fifty. You still don't need one man per female head of 
population. Males are expendable, and when nature evolves an 
expendable creature, she gives him the necessary instincts, an in- 
clination to run into danger, or at least a blindness to it. The male 
spider and the male mantis don't resist being eaten by the female 
after coupling. The reason all modern literature is no bloody good 
is that writers don't know this or choose to ignore it. Except Antoine 
de St. Exupery. Read him?' 

Edward had not. But he argued, half drunkenly, that you couldn't 
consider man as just another animal and compare him with spiders 
and mantids. Man had made himself into something different, 
something more. 

'Or something less.' Jones's small, white determined face, not 
emphasized by the usual hairy accents because the eyebrows were 
almost white and the lock across his forehead was colourless, spoke 
to Edward out of a tobacco-cloud, like an oracle: 

'Because you can't make anything but the way the material wants 

185 



you to go, if it's live material. You can't make anything against the 
grain. It's why mankind is wretched: we don't like what we're meant 
to be, and can't make ourselves into what we weren't meant to be. 
All our reverence for our own lives, our safety-first rubbish, takes 
away the justification for the male. Did you ever read Pascal, 
Blaise Pascal ?' 

And when Edward shook his head, *You haven't done anything 
and you haven't read anything. You'd better get weaving, as they 
say in the R.A.F. Pull your fingers out, Tillotson. This fellow Pascal 
was a self-pitying coward who pictured us as chained prisoners 
watching each in his turn led out to execution. And, despite his 
mathematical genius, he was frightened by his own image into accept- 
ing God. It won't do, man! Life is worth living just because it's 
finite and pointless, because death is ever-present . . .' He dreamed 
for a moment and then added, violently, 'Christ! How bored the 
immortal gods on Olympus must have been!' 

Edward said, vaguely, *I get fed up with myself,' and, giggling 
drunkenly, 'always carrying me around ! Like a dirty big overweight 
baby.' 

*0f course,' Jones said, 'because you take care of yourself, be- 
cause you won't spend yourself. Thrift! People are misers about life. 
Like money, it's for risking, not hoarding. You've nobody to 
account to but yourself.' 

Edward wondered vaguely what his Uncle Walter would have 
said. He went to bed reeling drunk. The next day the French 
admiral and his staff arrived, accompanied by Commander Pardoner 
who said to Edward, T'm taking you back to Paris with me. Their 
Marine Militaire people want some help translating the L.12 and 
K.72 Admiralty Confidential Handbooks. What do you think of 
Jones ?' 

'He's mad,' Edward said. 

'No, Tillotson, just very, very sane.' 

Two days later Edward was in Paris, working with an officer 
named Thurgau. The city was already recovering from the shock of 
the Hireurs des toils' who had opened fire on De Gaulle's procession 
down the Champs-Elysees ; and from the euphoria of the 'bloodless 
revolution' which was to have ushered in the Gallic millennium. 
Men with complacent mouths came up from Africa to take over the 
Ministries from the inspired lunatics who had silently fought the 
Occupant for four years. Recrimination succeeded self-liberation. 

Dry as a kex and almost as thin, Thurgau, with his slow, Alsatian 

186 



manner was only very moderately pleased to see Edward. He was a 
Polytechnicien; he was not a pleasant man to work with: he resented 
having to ask for explanations and received them not only without 
thanks but with a kind of scepticism, as if he thought it impossible 
that Edward could know anything. But they only worked together 
until lunch-time, after which Edward returned to the Hotel Beranger, 
where he was billeted, and had the rest of the day to himself. He 
saw nothing of Commander Pardoner, who had gone to Brussels 
on a mission. 

Edward discovered Paris by the simple expedient of walking about. 
The city was by no means fully returned to life, yet to him, after the 
squalor of London, it seemed gay and beautiful and extraordinarily 
clean. He loitered and strolled, gaping at places — the Madeleine, the 
Sacre Coeur. A less obvious place captivated him, an embankment 
between two of the bridges where the shop-keepers set out stalls 
of plants and birds in cages; the Quai de la Megisserie. He followed 
the river from there and crossed a bridge, a second bridge, and found 
himself on an island in the Seine, and under the shadow ofNotre- 
Dame. He went into the cathedral. There was a requiem mass being 
sung, and for five minutes he stood still and listened and let his 
eyes explore the nave. Although it impressed him, he was not 
really interested in architecture, nor in God; and the organist was 
a fumbler. He came out and decided to walk home by the left bank. 
There was a restaurant down beside the river, with very pretty 
window-boxes, and he made up his mind to come back that night and 
dine there. 

He walked to the restaurant again that evening, sulky and de- 
pressed because Celia had not written. It was not crowded, but nor 
was it deserted. He was the only customer dining alone, and he 
began to feel at first sad, and then impatient, as if someone were 
wasting his time. At the table next to Edward's against the wall, an 
American woman of seventy with the face of a centenarian parrot 
made up like a whore was talking percentages, of what he did not hear, 
to a young man with a wild-rose complexion and large boil on his 
forehead. The only other table within earshot was occupied by two 
senior American army oflicers and two Frenchwomen who said 
nothing but ate copiously. One of the officers was finding a score of 
original ways of calling De Lattre de Tassigny a show-off; the other 
kept saying, T guess that's so. Colonel,' taking otf his spectacles, 
polishing them, replacing them, and then drinking a glass of water. 
It occurred to Edward that he must have had something like a 

187 



gallon of water swilling about in his poor stomach. He thought of it 
as sea-water sloshing about in sour bilges, and the image so dis- 
turbed him that he finished his bottle of wine and ordered another 
in an access of hydrophobia rather than oenophilia: it made him 
first thoughtfully and later brutally drunk. When he stood up to 
leave, he was not quite steady, but he reached the door without 
wavering by walking very fast. There was a taxi standing waiting 
outside the restaurant and it seemed to him quite natural to step into 
it. And he was not particularly surprised, on the other hand he was 
vastly and rather noisily amused, when, without waiting for any 
direction, the taxi-driver drove oflF at once. 

Later, of course, he realized that the taxi had not only been sum- 
moned by someone else, but that the driver had been given his 
orders by the commissionaire; and that, the commissionaire having 
gone to tell the man, whoever he was, that his taxi was waiting, Ed- 
ward had arrived and by stepping into it, given the driver to think 
that he was the fare. 

After they had driven for some time along the left bank of the 
river, and turned left and crossed the boulevard St. Germain, 
Edward was completely lost. They seemed to go on for a long time, 
until, drunk though he was, it did occur to Edward that he was 
behaving oddly in not stopping the driver. He pulled himself forward 
by the back of the front seat and said, 'Ou allons-nous?' 

The driver thought that his fare was simply becoming impatient 
at the distance, and said, 'B'eriy a VArcamore . . .' adding that it was 
a long way. He went on grumbling half aloud about how long it was, 
and him with hardly any petrol. He was so ill-natured that Edward 
did not have the courage to ask him the nature of their destination : 
he could not face mortifying and complicated explanations. Besides, 
in a way he knew. Or perhaps it was only what he hoped — but it 
seemed to him that something in the driver's manner meant that 
their destination was a house of ill-fame. 

It was a big, dark house in a straight, quiet street, well beyond 
the Sevres-Babylone quarter. The driver said, 'Qa y est' and 
demanded a monstrous fare, which Edward paid. In a much less 
automatic way than that in which he had entered the taxi, now in 
deliberate search of excitement, of a girl, of ... of something, he 
went up the steps to the door, found a bell-pull, and tugged it. 
No sound, but the door opened almost at once and a woman with the 
face of a gipsy huckster visible in the rose-red light from a large 
hanging lamp, said. 'Come in, then; and be welcome.' 



There was a staircase and there were several doors opening off 
the hall: the one they went through had an inscription very neatly 
done in gold paint above the top panels: sedes arcanarum libidinum. 
At the time it meant nothing except that Edward identified the 
middle word as being more or less the name which the driver had 
applied to the house. The bav/d he followed into the room so marked 
had, perhaps in her youth, had an erudite lover. Or perhaps the 
inscription had been due to some lecherous old scholar, a regular 
customer, excusing his uneasy lust by means of this classical whim- 
sicality. 

The room was very large and lofty, done in red velvet and white 
and gold paint, and crowded with furniture, mostly chairs and day- 
beds and small tables, among which its two occupants, both young 
women in evening dress, looked forlorn. The whole effect, possibly 
because of the subdued lighting, was sad. The two girls rose and 
came towards him, and at the same moment, as if by a managed 
effect, the lights went out. Although this was quite normal at the 
time and was due to shortage of fuel or faulty gear at the power 
station, Edward, still drunk, was at once in the grip of fear which 
was near-panic ; and as if the advancing women intended to do him 
a mischief instead of to give him pleasure, he backed away in the 
darkness more precipitately than was wise, stumbled against a piece 
of furniture, and sat down heavily — fortunately the stumbling block 
was a large chair. Meanwhile, out in the hall, a rather metallic 
female voice cursed the 'centrale' loudly and obscenely, bade some- 
one good night and then called, 'Lou-lou, tu es Id?' 

Loulou was clearly the bawd, for her voice, calling her where- 
abouts, answered from near the door. One of the girls, present as a 
strong scent of musk in the darkness before him, suddenly sub- 
sided into Edward's lap and started stroking his head and fondling 
his ears. At the same time Madame Loulou applied a match to the 
wicks of first one, then a second and third candles, which were 
evidently in readiness. The light distracted his attention from the 
interest he was beginning to take in the silent but assiduous girl in 
his lap. Then the door opened and — it was like a dream, even a bit 
of a nightmare — Doris came in pulling on a pair of gloves and screw- 
ing up one eye against the smoke of a cigarette inelegantly stuck 
to her lower lip, and saying, '£"//, bieriy cherie, je ?ne saure ; si tu as 
quelqu'un pour mot, tu me . . .' She did not complete her instructions 
because Edward, so shocked by surprise that he did literally forget 
that he was not free to move, jumped to his feet with a 'Good God 

189 



Almighty, Doris!', spilling nine stone of astounded and at last 
articulate girl on to the floor in a manner which was quite good 
knock-about farce. 

As if the engineers at the distant power station were co-operating, 
the lights came on so that Doris and Edward could stare at each 
other. The girl who had shown so brisk a devotion to business got 
up, telling him that he was badly brought up. Doris said something 
to the Madame, who shrugged and walked out of the room; and 
snapped ^Ta gueule!' at her colleague. She must have had some 
ascendancy in the place, for the girl obediently held her tongue. 
To Edward, dealing with first things first as always, clearing the 
decks as Commander Pardoner would have put it, Doris said, 
*Got any money?' 

'Yes, some,' he said. 

'Give her five hundred and apologize. Her name's Rachel.' 

She said this exactly as if the family dog had growled at him and 
she were telling him not to be afraid, but to pat him and give him a 
lump of sugar. Edward had nothing smaller than thousands, and 
he could hardly ask for change, so he gave Rachel a thousand 
francs and said, 'Please forgive me, Rachel. It was the surprise of 
seeing an old friend.* 

The girl took the money and said curiously, 'So you know Dottie ?' 

'Yes. I've known her for years.' 

'Ah, I understand,' she said. 'It must have been a shock to 
find her in a bad place like this.' 

Edward could not think of a deprecating politeness less ambiguous 
than 'Not at all' in French, or for that matter in English. The remark 
was unanswerable. In any case, Doris said, 'Come on, Ted, I'll 
take you home,' as if their reunion had taken place hours ago, 
their surprise was over, their explanations all given. He followed her 
out into the street. A man was paying off a taxi and he gave Edward 
a sharp stare; it was probably the man whose taxi he had taken at 
the restaurant. They took his vacated cab and Doris gave the driver 
an address. 

'It's quite a way,' she said, as they settled in the back seat. Edward 
felt that it was necessary to go back a little and start again, properly, 
at their surprising meeting, with some appropriate comment. So 
he said, 'Well, this is very strange. Nice but strange.' That expressed 
neither more nor less than he felt: he had no disgust or shock at 
meeting Doris in a brothel; only surprise at meeting her at all. 
Doris, rather grumpily, said, 'I don't see anything strange in it. 

190 



Since I was stuck in Paris when the Germans came, I was likely 
to end up in a place Uke that. And if you came to Paris at all, so were 
you.' 

It was curious how speaking French had improved her English, 
but Edward was too hurt by her remark to dwell on that. He said, 
'Why? Why do you say that?' 

'Because it's so. Because you always liked it, you never had the 
courage to get it, and the obvious thing was to buy it.' 

He said bitterly to that, 'So we're birds of a feather.' And then, 
absurdly attributing her brutal affront to her own humiliation he 
said, 'Look, I'm terribly sorry. If I can help you get away, and I 
can, I . . .' She interrupted with a burst of genuine laughter, of real 
amusement. 'You're a scream, Ted! You always were. I don't work 
at the Arcamore. I own a piece of it and I use it sometimes to meet 
people.' 

'Why didn't you come home when the French turned it in ?' 

'I thought it'd be a good idea to be on the winning side.' 

'I see,' he said, coldly enough to make his feeling clear. Again 
she gave that clear, unambiguous laugh. She said, 'You didn't 
expect me to be a patriot, did you? I guessed wrong about the 
finish, but that's all I'm sorry for. Patriotism is for them as can 
afford it, duck . . .' 

'Plenty of people of your . . . your class, were patriotic' 

'I daresay. More fools them. Besides, they couldn't bloody well 
help themselves, could they, old dear? I'm not saying I thought of 
it at the time, but if there was no patriots there wouldn't be any war, 
would there? My trade teaches you a thing or two, Ted, and the 
first is that men are all the same shape whatever label they stick 
to themselves and whatever language they happen to jabber. There's 
one thing about being what I am, it makes you broadminded.' 

They had stopped at a traffic signal, and the interior of the taxi 
was well lit by street and shop lights. Doris took off the elaborate 
beret she was wearing and put her hands to her hair. Edward saw 
then that her head was closely capped with tiny soft curls, the hair 
not an inch long. It gave him a chance to break away from the 
distasteful line of her talk by admiring her hair-do; indeed, it looked 
charming. She said, 'You can thank the bloody partisans for it, 
since you like it.' 

'What on earth do you mean ?' 

'They shaved my head for me at their bloody silly liberation.* 

'You'd been . . . going with Germans ?' 

191 



Td been living with a German. One; singular, duck. For three 
years. He had a glass eye — lost the real one in Greece — but he was 
all right and I was fond of him and I'm not ashamed of it.' 

*In that case, I suppose it's O.K.' 

'They caught him because he stayed behind too long, saying 
good-bye. Soppy, ain't it? Like the talkies. I watched them shoot 
him from the first landing, as he ran downstairs.' 

'I'm sorry, Doris, very sorry, really. If you loved him, it must 
have been . . .' 

'Love? Who said anything about love? You was always on about 
love. He was all right. A man like any other. Soppier than some; 
not so soppy as others I could name. Let's not talk about him. The 
dead aren't interesting. Here we are, anyway.' 

Edward did not know much about Paris, but enough to be sur- 
prised at Doris's address: it was in a smart little street somewhere 
off the rue Royale. There seemed to be several rooms. He received 
a general impression of size, softness, pinkness; the chair he sat in 
was overstuffed; the table Doris put his whisky on was inlaid and 
of the kind he had only seen in expensive shop windows. None of 
it was in a taste which, whatever had happened, could possibly be 
hers. There was a log fire burning in a polished steel and bronze 
grate. Doris got herself a whisky and sat on the rug by the fire. 
Edward said, 'How d'you get whisky?' and she replied, 'By knowing 
Americans.' He began trying to talk about the past, but she was not 
interested; it seemed to Edward that nobody but her German 
Oherleutnant had ever made any impression on her, and he was not 
sure that even he had done so. Doris gave him a strong impression 
of being out on her own, an aggressive, almost feral, creature. She 
began to ask him questions about himself and said that judging 
by his rank he had done all right. Edward did not tell her that his 
uniform was nothing but a licit disguise to enable him to be in the 
war zone without difficulties. He shrugged, as if too modest to dis- 
cuss his small achievements. He realized that for Doris there was 
only now, this minute. By then they had had more of her whisky 
and he was at ease, not as drunk as he had been but drunk enough 
to be off his guard, so that when Doris said it was surely about time 
he was married and that it would come cheaper than going to places 
like the Arcamore, although this way of putting it offended deeply 
against the idea of Celia in his heart — for hypocrisy, at least in him, 
was not artificial, it was fundamental — he overlooked that and forgot 
the place where he had met Doris and the impression of him that 

192 



must have made on her, and told the facts even, incredibly, seeking 
sympathy for being parted from Celia within an hour of their wed- 
ding. To this, bringing him sharply to a sense of his own behaviour, 
she said, 'Ah, that accounts for me finding you in a knocking-shop.* 

That was like being hit in the face; he felt a wave of cold pass 
through him, chilling even his hands, and for a moment he thought 
he might be sick on her valuable carpet. It passed and left him, as 
he thought, sober. He got up, saying, 'Time for me to go.' Doris 
looked at him and said, T never did quite twig you, Ted. You're 
a half-and-halfer. What do I care about you going from your 
wedding to that place ? You don't think I was being narky, do you ? 
I like people the way people are. You act like you knew what things 
are really like; but you go on talking as if you didn't; or didn't 
want to.' 

He was going to answer her, although he did not know quite 
what to say, when the door opened and a slender, still pretty, but 
ravaged- looking girl came in. The shape of her face was vaguely 
familiar. She did not look at him. She held on to the door and 
Edward saw that she was not quite steady on her feet. When she 
spoke, in French, her voice had the attractive huskiness of the whisky 
drunk, marred by slurred articulation. She said that someone she 
called the big vegetable had telephoned to say that he could not 
come that night. Doris said, *0, Christ, Tina, you're drunk again,' 
and to Edward, 'That means you can stay. I was going to chuck 
you out at eleven. I don't remember if you ever met Tina.' 

T'm afraid I don't remember the name,' Edward said, looking at 
her friend, and then his memory worked and he said, *Of course. 
Princess . . . Var . . .' 

'Varyatinski,' the drunk girl said, and bowed slightly with perfect 
solemnity. Edward stood up and bowed back and she walked out 
giggUng, closing the door behind her. 

'You've been together all the time?' he asked Doris. 

'Yes. Her drinking's an expense, but she does what I tell her, and 
most of the housework.' 

He said, 'Look, I don't think I'll stay.' He had been slowly 
working up some indignation at the atrocious implications of her 
last remark before they were interrupted. For his own sake he had 
to find an answer, but all he could say was, 'As for what you said, 
I'm not going to explain or try to explain what led me to that place, 
but I'm damned if I'm down to anything as ugly as you seem to 
believe in.' 

193 



'That's more talk,' she said, 'I don't go much on talk. It's what 
people do that counts. F'rinstance . . .' 

She came to him, put her arms round his neck, one thigh between 
his legs, and her tongue in his mouth. He made no effort to justify 
his expressed opinion by any serious resistance. Doris pushed him 
over to a chair and shoved him into it and sat in his lap. It became 
clear to his clamouring body and even to his rapidly clouded mind 
that her skill in her trade was of the highest order. Presently she got 
suddenly to her feet and looked down at him smiling, then laughing, 
no doubt at his expression. And she said, nodding towards the door, 
'Out of there and through the one opposite. Count five hundred. 
And don't cheat.' 

He did not cheat: he had counted the full five hundred before he 
went to the door, crossed a passage and went through the opposite 
door into a bedroom with a big low bed, and a wash-basin with 
gold-plated taps, a bidet, chairs, a velvet-draped dressing-table, 
and a folding screen. Doris was not there, and he hesitated. The light 
was low, but it was quite good enough for him to see that the naked 
girl who came out from behind the screen and into his arms was 
Tina Varyatinski, giggling; her breath reeked of spirits, but so did 
his own no doubt. 

And it was as Doris had implied, the substitution made no 
difference. 

Afterwards, Edward's one hope was that Doris would not appear 
to take a producer's bow before he could get out; and perhaps say 
something about one grey cat being much like another in the dark. 
The princess, still apt to giggle, got his clothes for him and saw him 
into the hall. With his hand on the door-knob he thought he was 
safe; but he had given Doris too much credit even then. He heard 
her voice behind him saying, 'Good night, Ted.' He wanted to walk 
straight out, but he turned round and said, 'Good night, Doris. 
Oh, by the way, what do I owe you ? I mean, I don't know the tariff.' 
It was feeble ; and as ineffectual as it deserved to be, for she laughed 
with real amusement again and said, 'I expect I've got more in the 
bank than you, Ted. I can afford to be generous. It was on the house.' 



7 

The following morning Edward was tormented by shame. At noon 
Thurgau told him that the work he had been seconded to do was 

194 



finished; and finding, upon inquiry, that Commander Pardoner had 
returned to Paris, Edward went to see him and asked leave to go 
home: he wanted to get away from a city in which he had been so 
hideously betrayed by his self. Commander Pardoner said, 'I should 
prefer you to remain a few days, Tillotson. We are holding an 
inter-Allied radar palaver. It is conceivable that you may be able 
to make yourself useful. It is perfectly meaningless, but it gives a 
pleasing impression of industry.' 

Commander Pardoner went on to speak of talks which his admiral 
and himself had been having with some Russian and American 
technical officers. 'Idle persiflage, Tillotson. Amiable chatter about 
sharing secrets and post-war disarmament. The trouble is that the 
only politicians one can trust are the Russians.' Edward laughed and 
said, 'Oh, come off it, sir!' 

T am perfectly serious, Tillotson. Nor is there anything surprising 
about it. A politician's object in life is to get power. In democratic 
or oligarchic communities like our own or the American, the 
politician only has unlimited power in war-time. Naturally, there- 
fore, all democratic politicians have a latent desire for a state of war 
or near-war, possibly unwitting, and despite manifest attempts to 
establish peace which are, of course, always ineffectual. But in a 
tyranny the politician has unlimited power in peace, as in war. On 
the whole, therefore, unless he is raving mad, and Joe Stalin is very, 
very sane, such a man will favour peace. If the Russians do not 
disarm it will be because they dare not trust us.' 

Edward was only moderately amused by Commander Pardoner's 
perversity, his own opinion being that, when it came to politicians, 
it was absurd to make fine distinctions between a rogue and a 
scoundrel. He was annoyed at being forced to stay on in Paris. To 
console him, Commander Pardoner gave him a ticket for an ENSA 
performance of The Merchant of Venice at the Comedie Fran^aise, 
by the Old Vic Company. He went, of course, and it excited him 
tremendously, he had acted in it at school but never seen it per- 
formed before. He took a violent dislike to the self-pitying Antonio, 
and Portia was exactly the kind of sly, clever bitch he detested; and 
as for Bassanio, he was obviously a con-man. Poor Shylock, Edward 
thought, an adult preoccupied with two really important things, 
money and hate, in that galley! The last lines of the court scene were 
spoilt for him because when Shylock said 'Send the deed after me 
and I will sign it', he somehow managed to bite his tongue so badly 
that he was in considerable pain. When he ran into S.S.O. in the 

195 



foyer he still had the tears of pain in his eyes. Commander Pardoner 
laughed and said, 'Come, come, my boy, it's only a play! And I have 
news for you.' He did not have time to tell Edward the news at 
once because at that moment he was accosted by an American 
army officer and said, 'Here's the young man I've been telling you 
about, General. Don't pay any attention to his tears, he's sensitive 
to literature.' 

'Why, that's a very fine trait and nothing to be ashamed of,' the 
general said, and offered Edward his hand. Then he said, 'Why, 

it's Mister ' and Edward said, hastily, 'Tillotson, sir,' and, 'I 

hope you're well, Mr. — General Orage.' 

'So you know each other,' S.S.O. said. 

'Sure, Lipschitz introduced us, isn't that right. Commander 
Tillotson?' 

Edward felt very silly being called 'Commander' by Bayard 
Orage who, for his part, managed, with the elegance natural to him, 
to wear his uniform without pretending to be a soldier. 

Edward wanted to ask what had been said about him and why. 
But the two older men talked about the play. When General Orage 
took leave of Commander Pardoner, he turned to Edward and said, 
'We'll be meeting again in 'Zeke Powel's office quite soon, I suppose.' 
When his bowed back had retreated out of sight Edward said to 
Commander Pardoner, 'Why shall I be meeting him in Powel's 
office, sir?' 

S.S.O. asked him, then, whether he was not preparing to sign 
a contract with Llewellyn and Powel for the post-war exploitation 
of his feed-back device. Edward said that he was, and Commander 
Pardoner went on, *I think you'll find a short and insignificant- 
looking clause giving them world-rights. Powel has already started 
on the job of selling a licence to Orage. You haven't signed yet, so 
you're in a strong position. American exploitation of television will 
develop much quicker than ours. No damned B.B.C. nonsense, 
Tillotson, no cant about cultural responsibility, just plenty of 
advertising revenue. Orage's business will be worth fifty times 
Powel's to you, if you play your hand cleverly, or even just carefully. 
I've had a word or two with Orage.' 

They were walking towards the Hotel Beranger as they talked. 
Edward halted and looked at Commander Pardoner and said, 
'You've always been extraordinarily kind to me, sir.' He shrugged 
and replied, 'Let us hope, Tillotson, that it will be counted to me 
for merit. We all enjoy playing providence when we can. Besides, 

196 



I am naturally officious. And you know, we all have an uneasy 
feeling that it would be wise to put as many people as possible 
under an obligation, now that the war is all but over. I had a fore- 
warning of what is in store for us, in Brussels last week. The Belgian 
mechanics employed in one of the R.E.M.E. garages stole the dis- 
tributor arm of my jeep and sold it back to me for a pound of coffee, 
under the pretence that it was a new one.' 

'I wonder what percentage the R.E.M.E. boys are getting,' 
Edward said. 

'An infamous suggestion, Tillotson. Moreover, I doubt whether 
they're a match for the natives in a business transaction. It must 
be a lesson to us. We'll all be doing the best we can for ourselves 
pretty soon. The first ten years after this war will be a free-for-all 
scramble. Catch as catch can and no holds barred, eh ?' 
* * * 

Edward tried to telephone Celia from Dover. Her mother said that 
she had not been sent to Germany, but did not know where she was. 
But a letter which had been chasing him and had somehow overtaken 
him at last, was waiting for him at the laboratory, and it provided 
him with a time-table of her movements as far as she knew them. 
He worked out that she would be at Dartmouth, doing a piece 
about the reserve destroyer fleet anchored there. He telephoned the 
number she had given him and found her in. Neither of them was 
a telephone-talker; Edward said, Towel's down at the works, I'm 
to see him there on Friday. Can you nip across to Wales and join 
me at Machynlleth?' He gave her the name of an hotel where the 
firm's executives had rooms booked for them. CeUa said, T'U try 
hard, darling, but only expect me if you see me. I'm going to try 
for leave.' 

Tn three days, then.' 

'Heaven!' 

Hot as he was to see her, the delay was not unwelcome. He was 
not sure that he could look at her naturally. The next morning he 
found a note from S.S.O. at the office, marked Private and Confi- 
dential. Orage is here, staying at the Savoy. He zvill not be surprised 
if you call him there. Commander Pardoner's persistent and gratui- 
tous concern for his welfare was disturbing. However, Edward 
telephoned Orage, who invited him to lunch. He had a slow and 
serious manner, looked more soldierly in plain clothes than he had 
done in uniform, and at close quarters across a luncheon table the 
magnification power of his rimless spectacles gave his eyes a kind of 

197 



astonished wildness, like a kitten's. Throughout the meal he tried 
to get Edward to suggest that as he had not yet signed with Llewellyn 
and Powel, he might sign directly with N.A.E. Edward could not 
do it, since Llewellyn and Powel had been responsible for saving 
his device from Lipschitz ; but he did not tell Orage that, he gave the 
impression that he could sign if he would, but would not; Orage 
might as well think him the soul of honour. Orage asked him, *Ever 
thought of working in the States?' and Edward said that he had 
not. 

'Well, why not think of it ? Five years on from the end of the war 
you could be making twenty or thirty thousand dollars a year!' 

Edward said that sounded nice and Orage said, 'But not what 
you want?' 

'I don't know what I want,' Edward said, discovering, with sur- 
prise, that this was quite true. All the same, you could not do much 
without money: he decided to be candid and said, 'I don't want to 
leave England. I'd like your advice, though.' He hesitated: now that 
they were cut of uniform, should he say 'Sir'? On the whole, not; 
he went on, 'If we leave things as they are, I mean, if I sign with 
Llewellyn and Powel, and you get a licence from Powel to manu- 
facture in the United States, what sort of money can I count on 
for the next few years ?' 

Orage laughed and said that he could not possibly say. 'Not 
exactly, of course,' Edward said, 'but you can probably give me 
an idea. I mean, a thousand a year, pounds not dollars, two, three ?' 

'I just don't know, son. From the little Powel told me, it couldn't 
be less than two. It could be twenty.' 

That was one of the most satisfying moments in Edward's life. 
He had once heard an old song with the refrain, 'How pleasant it is 
to have money ^ heigh-ho! How pleasant it is to have money!* He 
supposed it must have first been sung in very easy times, when the 
possession of money could be called merely pleasant. Now it was the 
sine qua non condition of freedom, the condition for life, liberty and 
the pursuit of happiness. He suddenly felt at ease, safe, home\ almost 
what his Uncle Walter would have called justified. He thought of 
affording the luxuries, truth-telling, candour, the charitable view; 
travel; owning a few trees in a garden; listening to music he Uked, 
when he liked. Above all, affording generous expression of his love 
for Celia and the luxury of being always with her. Affording, too, 
other generosities. He might increase Eileen's subsidy to five pounds 
a week; there was a weight on his heart and that might take it off. 

198 



Tuck a bit of generous conduct away behind you, and you had some 
capital to draw on when your self pledged your credit and ran you 
up a bill of guilt. 

By the time Edward reached Machynlleth he had begun to think 
of that large income as if it belonged to him. The firm's three 
directors were present when his contract with them was discussed. 
But only Powel counted. David Llewellyn, a short, broad, lively 
man who talked with the musical lilt of his people, was an engineer, 
not a business man. As for old Mr. Evans, Edward had only spoken 
to him twice before. He had been a small Cardiff shipowner. His 
money had started Llewellyn and Powel, Edward had a vague idea 
that he was Llewellyn's uncle. He was a bit like the twentieth-century 
God: in theory one of the powers to be reckoned with, in practice 
he could be ignored. Edward knew nothing about him excepting 
that he had the third best collection of seashells in the world. 

Powel wore tweeds as beautiful as his London clothes: he could, 
Edward thought, have gone unchanged into one of those Esquire 
advertisements selling English cloth; he was smooth but male. He 
was, he said, glad that Edward had made up his mind to come home 
and do a spot of work. Edward told them, briefly, how he had been 
shunted about France. It was Llewellyn who broke into this chit- 
chat to say that he for one had a full in tray and nothing at all in 
the OUT one. He picked up a stout document of several folios from 
Powel's desk and asked, *You ready, now, to sign this, man ?' 

Edward said he had not yet read it and Powel said, 'Take it away 
and bring it back signed.' 

'More time wasting!' Llewellyn threw up his short, massive arms 
and snatched it back from Edward and read the preamble in a fast 
gabble. Then, coming to the clauses, he began to read more slowly, 
pausing at the end of each one to raise black, arched eyebrows and 
wait for Edward's nod. They worked through the eleven clauses and 
then Llewellyn put the papers down and said, 'Suit you ?' 

'Sorry,' Edward said. 'No.' 

Powel sat up, looked at his polished nails, then at Edward. It was 
impossible to see, at that moment, that he had an over-bite. He said, 
'You . . . What's wrong with it? You realize we hold the . . .' 

'None of that, Ezekiel,' Mr. Evans said; he never used the abbre- 
viation. The old man had been so silent that Edward was quite 
startled. To Edward, he said, 'What's the trouble, then ?' 

'It leaves me out of any arrangement with the Americans, sir, 
or for that matter with anyone outside the Commonwealth.' 

199 



Powel said, 'Oh, that. It's speculative. Besides, we have to cover 
our risk.' 

'What risk ? There isn't one.' 

'Is that so? Look, Ed, you had a smart idea . . . once. You'll be 
living on it for the rest of your life, and having it pretty good . . .' 
He rapped with his fingers on the agreement and went on, 'Don't 
generalize from the particular.' 

'You mean,' Edward said, 'not to try to be smart all the time?' 

Mr. Evans frowned. Llewellyn laughed. A girl put her head round 
the door and said something in swift Welsh. Llewellyn said, 'Not 
now, Gladys, bach^ and, to Edward, 'Powel doesn't mean . . .' 
Powel interrupted him, 'Let me handle this, Dai,' but before he 
could go on Edward said, *I think I should tell you that I met 
Bayard Orage in Brussels and talked to him.' 

Powel's face went blank. Llewellyn said, 'Orage? Now there's a 
great engineer, man!' And, looking from Powel's face to Edward's 
and back, 'Will one of you tell me what's going on here ?' 

They waited for Powel to speak. He said, curtly, 'I had a prehmi- 
nary, exploratory talk with Orage. I've not bothered you with it, 
it's not' gone far enough.' 

There was a silence. Then Mr. Evans said, 'It would be better, 
Ezekiel, if you told us everything you are doing, everything what- 
ever. I sometimes have a feeling that I am not being told all that is 
going on in our firm. Now, that isn't right, Ezekiel.' 

Edward saw Powel flush. Dai Llewellyn said quickly, ' 'Zeke 
knows what he's doing, cousin Owen.' Cousin, Edward thought, 
not uncle. Mr. Evans said, peevishly, 'That isn't the point, Dai,' 
and to Edward, 'What did Mr. Bayard Orage say to you ?' 'That if 
it was his firm I was signing with,' Edward repHed, *I could look 
forward to ten thousand a year.' 

'Preposterous!' Powel said. 

'Dollars, of course ?' Llewellyn suggested. 

'Pounds, I gathered,' Edward said. 

Old Mr. Evans, sounding very Welsh, asked him, 'What do you 
want, Edward Tillotson?' 

'The same share as this agreement offers me, but on the world 
market, not just the home one. But leaving you free to grant licences 
on whatever terms you can get. Orage to have an option of, say, six 
months, before you sign with any other American. I want a guaranteed 
minimum of three thousand a year, half of it salary, but called ex- 
penses, and the other half advance against inventor's royalties.' 

200 



The three directors all looked at the contract where it lay on the 
table. Powel shrugged, Llewellyn nodded. Old Mr. Evans said, *We 
will have the agreement amended in that sense.' There followed a 
silence; Edward, exultant, had difficulty in keeping the smile off 
his face and was obliged to frown. Powel said, 'You'd better take 
two weeks off and then get down to work, Ed.' Old Mr. Evans rose, 
patted Edward's shoulder as he passed him, and said, *I must be 
getting along.' He left them. 

T heard you were cheated of your honeymoon,' Dai Llewellyn 
said. 

*Yes, that's right, I was.' Edward looked at his watch and added, 
brightly, 'But I'm meeting my wife at the Royal Angler in twenty 
minutes.' 

Rising, Powel said, 'Want to borrow my cottage for a fortnight? 
It's furnished now. I'm not using it.' 

Edward remembered about the cottage: he said, 'I'd be most 
awfully grateful, 'Zeke.' 

'Two rooms,' Powel said, 'but the roof and walls are sound ' 

Llewellyn, as if impatient with the proprietor's deprecatory tone, 
burst out, 'It's a grand little place! Man, you've the Menai Strait 
at your feet and all Anglesey behind you! Did you ever fish for 
bass ?' 

'Don't listen to him,' Powel said, laughing, 'or you'll be involved 
in more misery than a front-line soldier!' 

'I never fished for anything,' Edward said. 

'Edward Tillotson, you must try it! Powel lent me the place last 
week and you'll find my tackle there. The morning tide's the one. 
There's days it means rising at four and standing out there on the 
rocks in the wind and rain, why not for the chance of an eight- 
pound fish, and that's what you'll catch if you use a live sand-eel 
for bait.' 

'It sounds grand.' 

'Grand's the word for it. You'll take the place?' 

'Good heavens, yes, of course, if 'Zeke really means it.' 

'Why wouldn't he mean it?' 

Powel said, 'You're welcome, Ed, but don't let Dai's raptures 
lead you to expect too much,' and walked out of the room. Llewellyn 
said, 'When you get there, light a fire of paper in the hearth. The 
smoke will bring Evan George up from the valley. He'll get you 
anything you want and he'll teach you to fish. Evan George is dumb.' 

'Dumb? English or American dumb?' 

201 



'English. He can't speak. You'll find he makes himself under- 
stood, though.' 

Waiting in the yard for one of the firm's trucks to run him into 
the town, which was two miles away, Edward felt guilty of extortion. 
And they had been so kind to him afterwards! He felt absolutely 
no right to the money he had demanded. He had exulted, yet he was 
ashamed. It seemed to him that if, as seemed clear, the three Welsh- 
men thought him worth what he had asked, they were deceived in 
him. What they had conceded him would be a burden to carry. 

At the Royal Angler Edward saw Celia the moment he entered 
the bar, and it was, for a moment, as if he had not known her before, 
as if she was quite new to him. What struck him hard was that she 
was herself, integral and independent, not a kind of extension of 
himself. Although what she was doing was what he recognized at 
once as characteristic, it was not something he could have imagined 
her doing: she had one foot resting on a happily recumbent red 
setter, and to make this pleasanter for both him and herself she had 
kicked off one shoe. From time to time she dug into the dog's fur 
with her toes. Her head was drawn sharp and clear and beautiful 
against the empty mockery of the fancier alcohol bottles ranged 
behind the bar. The setter's owner was a stout man of fifty, with a 
bright, massive face. He wore a red flannel waistcoat under his old 
tweed coat. Celia, seeing Edward as soon as he entered the bar, 
set the tone for this too public reunion by saying, 'Darling! So 
punctual! This is Mr. Jones and he has been teUing me about 
catching trout. My husband.' 

Edward was suddenly intensely irritated. But what had he wanted ? 
That her feelings should be too much for her respect for her dignity, 
that if anyone was to remember what was due to face, in a public 
place, it should be him. He said, 'Trout's all right. Bass is my fish, 
actually.' 

Celia looked at him sharply. The man Jones said, 'Ah, now that's 
interesting,' and, 'You'll take whisky. Mister . . . ?' 

'Tillotson. Thanks.' 

Celia's sharp look had changed to one of surprise. 

'Bass,' Edward said, 'caught as they come up the Strait on a 
small-hours tide driven by wind and rain.' 

'I know those mornings,' Mr. Jones said, and, 'What weight of 
fish would you expect to take, now ? Will it be like playing a salmon ?* 

'I daresay. Though eight pounds is about the limit.' Edward 
raised his glass and said, 'Here's to fishing!' 

202 



'Darling,' Celia said, 'you're full of surprises.' 

'Aren't I? And one of them's nice. I've got a cottage on the 
Strait for a week.' 

'Edward! But how . . .' 

She was suddenly natural, very pleased with the prospect. Mr. 
Jones, with ready tact, said, 'I must be away to me work.' He called 
a greeting in Welsh to the woman behind the bar. Edward explained 
to Celia that Powel was lending them his cottage — 'two rooms but 
no sanitation.' 

'Who cares about sanitation? We shall have privacy,' she said, 
and as if she had been there already, 'It'll be one of those tiny white- 
washed cob or stone places with slate roofs, like a child's drawing of 
a cottage.' 

They went up to her room. It seemed to Edward as many years 
as it was actually months since they had been together. The idea of 
being isolated with her in a remote cottage for a week suddenly 
struck him with near-panic. He had been mad not to find a reason 
for refusing Powel's offer. He did not see how to get back over the 
obstacles he had been raising between himself and Celia, to where 
they had been before he went to France. An ordinary, even much 
longer, parting, could have been set at nought by each of them con- 
senting to be for the other an image of a beloved. But the time 
parting them contained events so powerful in changing his own 
image of himself (the starting point of any such consent, any such 
adaptation), that he was bound to appear strange to Celia; and to 
behave awkwardly. 

Up in their room he kept away from her, walking about too much, 
commenting on his unpacking, making too much of his own unin- 
teresting adventures, assuming a measure of anxiety over his Uncle 
Walter whom, after all, Celia did not know and which was more than 
he really felt. His self, his I, had involved him in so much that he 
could neither repudiate nor confess to. It made Celia, who had 
turned to him happily and candidly as soon as the door closed on 
them, as constrained as himself. She became bright and chatty in 
her turn; and, wondering what was wrong with him, watchful. 
There crept into her manner as she talked while Edward washed and 
changed, a touch of resentment. That entailed a change in his image 
of her. His thinking, as he buried his face in the towel and scrubbed 
at it with unnecessary vigour, became extraordinarily vulgar: he 
conceived of Celia as reminding herself, whenever he behaved in a 
manner which was unsatisfactory, not that she loved him but that 

203 



with her face, figure and opportunities she could have 'done much 
better' for herself. That, Edward considered, was thinking, feeling, 
by Powel's standard. But at least it was one which left elbow-room, 
room for action: combing his hair, he began to boast, starting by 
saying that, Oh, by the way, he'd forgotten to mention that they were 
going to be quite rich. 

'Rich?' 

'What is called, at least, comfortably off.' 

Celia, sitting on the bed, was looking past his back at his face in 
the looking-glass; he at hers in the same glass. That way, he could 
face her candidly. She was smiling, ready enough to be impressed, 
pleased, but still confused by his manner. Edward reminded her 
about the preliminary agreement he had made with Powel before he 
went away, and said, 'We've been battling over terms this morning. 
As it happened, I was in a much stronger position than I expected 
to be.' 

He turned round and offered her a cigarette and took one himself 
and lit them and told her about Bayard Orage. She said, 'Oh, but I 
met him. At a Press conference. He's rather a pet.' 

'I daresay. He's bidding L. and P. for the American rights of my 
thing. He bought me lunch at the Savoy. He's the prophet of our 
riches.' 

'What did he say, exactly?' 

Edward found that he did not want to tell her. Something mani- 
fest as a physical coldness within the breast was spreading through 
him at the revelation, to himself, of his own inability to be open with 
her. But to repeat what Orage had said would be like making a 
contract at bridge: he was afraid of overbidding, yet anxious to 
appear big and lucky. He looked at the tip of his cigarette in a 
stagy sort of way and said, 'Suppose we're to have something over 
three thousand a year, perhaps a lot over, how do you want to live?' 

'But, Edward, are we? You're being a little odd, darling.' 

'There's nothing odd about the contract I'm signing with L. and 
P., and that guarantees us a minimum of three thousand a year.' 

She got up and came over to kiss him, not seriously though, and 
said, 'Honestly, I don't know what to say. You'll be justifiably 
cross if I say, "Are you sure?" But — perhaps you don't realize it 
— you've somehow given me the impression that money was a thing 
you're no good at, that we'd probably never have any. That was 
all right with me. Now you suddenly tell me this . . .' 

*I didn't want to shout the odds till I was sure,' Edward said, 

204 



trying hard to keep the note of irrational anger out of his voice. 
That was the kind of He by implication he was learning to tell; 
and to believe. Celia said, quickly, 'No, of course not, darling. But 
it does rather shake one up. Oh, very agreeably. I mean, any to come 
glad of it as the punters say.' 

He realized that the air had suddenly cleared. Celia probably 
thought that she now had the explanation of the uneasiness of their 
reunion. This news had been his preoccupation ; and because money 
was not, as they were beginning to say, his 'thing', he had been 
behaving awkwardly. That explanation worked for her and con- 
sequently, although it was wrong, worked for Edward, too. They were 
both easy. She sat on the bed and patted it and he sat beside her and 
put an arm round her, and she said, *So we're going to have money. 
I suppose three thousand a year can be called money? Shall we 
live in the country ? All the towns are broken. I hate broken things.' 
* * * 

When they reached the cottage, Edward lit a fire with the packing 
of the provisions they had brought with them from the factory's 
canteen store. Smoke rose in a column from white-washed chimney 
stack. Edward explained that Powel had written to Evan George: 
that signal would fetch him. They went out and stood in the sun- 
shine in front of the house. Celia asked about the great grass-topped, 
bird-haunted rock out in the Strait. They heard the sound of a 
motor-cycle engine somewhere near the bottom of the hill on the 
other side of the house. Edward said, 'That will be Evan George, 
no doubt.' He told her what Dai Llewellyn had told him about the 
rock. It was called St. Yreix's Stone. Once the devil tried to invade 
Anglesey by swimming the Strait in the guise of a great conger, 
escorted by imps changed into fishes. St. Yreix threw a stone at them 
from this cliff. 'It frightened the devil away. That's the saint's stone.' 

'What happened to Yreix?' Celia said. 

'The poor fellow was martyred by a heathen Dane, a king of 
Londonderry called Garfang or some such name. Yreix is the only 
saint in the martyrology to be martyred by keel-hauling.' 

'Poor Yreix!' 

*Ah, well, it was done under the local defence of the realm act, 
you see; he was probably one of those clergymen who take Chris- 
tianity seriously, and was teaching Garfang's men to turn the other 
cheek. No government can put up with that.' 

Evan was getting off his motorcycle in front of the house. He was 
a big, quiet-faced man with pale grey eyes and a natural tonsure 

205 



surrounded by a woolly fringe of dead-looking orange hair. He 
came to them, smiling shyly. He was not deaf and was quick to 
understand what was required of him. Celia smiled at Evan and 
said something about trying not to be a nuisance. The man answered 
her in a series of throatal sounds, inarticulate, but conveying 
goodwill. His gestures were wide, emphatic and full of meaning. 
Edward said, 'Dai says Evan was a fisherman. Now, he does not 
go out much. He's part-time odd-job man up at the Lloyd-Conway 
Hospital.' 

'That hideous pink granite place in the valley ? What sort of hos- 
pital is it?' Celia said. 

'It used to be a loony-bin. The War Office has it now, as a re- 
habilitation centre for war-nerves cases. Officers only. The man in 
charge is a Colonel Dalrymple . . .' 

Evan's eyes went from speaker to speaker. He made sympathetic 
gurgling sounds. And watching him in his speechlessness Edward 
became conscious that from the whole vast surface of the globe rose 
at that and every moment a great clamour of words in five or six 
hundred languages. Probably in any one minute of the day or night 
something like 150,000 million words were whispered, spoken loud, 
shouted, bawled, howled, muttered, screamed, yelled or otherwise 
uttered; and of these hundreds of thousands of millions, tens or 
hundreds of millions were relayed, recorded, broadcast, scrambled 
and unscrambled, transmitted and amplified. Thus an incon- 
ceivable uproar was rising to heaven as they stood there before the 
whispering sea and below the wailing gulls, a volume of noise 
beyond conception great and terrible, and of which every mono- 
syllabic element was uttered as a significant expression of some mind 
or soul. And not a sound reached them of all that cry. Nothing but 
the whisper of the sea and the wail of the gulls. And Edward had 
only to glance at Evan to be quite certain that of every thousand 
words, nine hundred and ninety-nine served absolutely no purpose. 

Celia said that she would get a meal, and invited Evan. He shook 
his head and made them understand by two grunts and a gesture 
that he was wanted at the hospital. But first he got out some of 
David Llewellyn's fishing tackle and there, on the clifF-top, gave them 
a lesson in casting. Celia quickly lost interest, and saying that she 
had not the strength for it in her wrists, left them. For Edward 
there was pleasure in standing high above the sea in salty air and 
clear, mild sunshine, swinging the long rod and making the weighted 
line describe its wide, sweet curve. Nine-tenths of him were occupied 

206 



with the glory of his own body and its sensations; the other tenth 
played with the pleasure of seeking a mathematical expression for 
the trajectory of the weighted hook through space. 

Just before Evan left, Edward pointed to St. Yreix's Stone and 
asked him if one could land on it. Certainly, no trouble at all, said 
his emphatic nod and brightening eyes. There would be sea-birds 
there, Edward thought, and rocks, and short, crisp turf to lie on. 
He saw Evan away on his ancient machine, after they had come to 
an understanding that he would call to take Edward fishing not the 
following morning but the next. Meanwhile, Edward was to practise 
casting. 

'I must be up at five for it,' he told Celia, watching her do what 
she could with dried egg and spam. She smiled; she said, stabbing 
her fork contemptuously towards the contents of the pan, 'I hope 
we can do better than this.' 

They could: later in the day, while they were down on the beach 
poking about in rock-pools left by the ebbing tide and taking keen 
pleasure in the small creatures they found in them, and calling 
to each other across the vast beach to 'come and look at this!', Evan 
must have visited them again, for on the kitchen table they found a 
basket of eggs, strong-tasting butter, and four trout. Nor was that 
all they found on their return, for sitting on the low dry-stone wall 
which separated the cottage garden from the edge of the cliff was 
a tall, lean man in khaki shorts and shirt. The small, shining bald- 
ness of his head and the roundness of his heavily rimmed spectacles 
gave him the look of an insect. 

'Hallo, there!' he called, as soon as they came in sight, and demon- 
strating ease by not rising. T thought I'd make a neighbourly call. 
I saw your smoke. My name's Dalrymple.' 

They introduced themselves and apologized for having nothing 
to drink in the house. 

'Oh, we're better without it,' he said, 

'Not me,' Edward said, and, 'You're the CO. of the Lloyd- 
Conway hospital, aren't you ?' 

'For my sins, yes.' 

Celia said that she would make tea; and having by then discovered 
Evan's provisions, invited him to stay. He said it was kind of her, 
but he would not stay. 

'Walking up the hill and down again is all the time away from one's 
job that one allows oneself. I should not do that, really. We're short- 
handed. But one isn't oneself without half an hour's gentle exercise, 

207 



eh ? I get a game of squash with some of my inmates, but that's 
more of a strain than a relaxation.' 

He bore his *niceness' about with him, like a little banner, waving 
it from time to time in his ever-so-whimsical smile. 

'You have violent cases ?' Edward said, making talk. 

'Dear me, no. My inmates are people who want to die, not to 
inflict death. That's the trouble with them, you see. Man is a pre- 
dator. If he stops wanting to inflict death, there is nothing much 
left. The strain I referred to is that of stimulating them to want to 
win, to inflict a little death on me.' 

Edward said, T see.' The colonel went on, 'Why don't you and 
your lady wife walk down to see us one evening?' As if in protest a 
violent sizzling, originating in the frying pan, reached them through 
the kitchen window. 'It would be a work of charity,' he continued. 
'Isn't visiting the sick counted to one for merit?' He took off his 
spectacles and polished them carefully on a small piece of chamois 
leather pulled from his hip-pocket. Uncovered, the eyes were 
weak, unconfident, hiding shyly behind long, lowered lashes. 

'I'll ask my wife,' Edward said, and went into the cottage. 

Celia had heard. She said, 'Dam' that for a tale. You go if you 
think you must. I'm having nothing to do with a man who calls 
me your lady wife.' 

When he returned to Colonel Dalrymple he had risen and was 
staring out across the Strait. He said he must be going. Edward 
promised to call one evening, alone or with Celia. 

'Oh, bring Mrs. Tillotson,' he said, 'it helps my chaps to see a bit 
of company. Helps 'em all the more to see a pretty girl.' About that 
he was not even faintly jocular, but vaguely clerical, curatical. 

The morning of Edward's dawn-tide initiation into bass-fishing 
from the rocks started a short Indian summer of radiant, cloudless 
days with the temperature in the seventies. For two hours he stood 
on the extreme point of the promontory of rocks, with the tide 
racing past, casting the sand-eel bait farther and farther out into 
the Strait as he came nearer and nearer to a successful imitation of 
Evan's tireless wielding of the rod, and distracted, from time to time, 
by the spectacle of colour being slowly infused into the dozen dif- 
ferent greys which sea and sky and rock had been made of. At one 
moment the sky above the dark mainland to the east was striped 
green and orange ; the orange faded to rose, the green to aquamarine, 
violet, blue. Evan caught two three-pound fish in the first half an 
hour. Edward caught none until he was thinking of giving up. Then 

208 



he hooked a bass which Evan, with upheld fingers, estimated at six 
pounds, and pounded his back as if he were responsible for that. 
Edward was indescribably excited. He understood, in that moment, 
why rich men spend their money on getting back to an Old Stone 
Age economy. But it was Evan who cleaned the fish. Evan, too, who 
rowed them out to the Yreix Stone two hours later, and undertook 
to fetch them off again later in the afternoon. 

For Edward, and perhaps for Celia, it seemed that nothing had 
ever had such power to exalt the mind, tranquillize the heart, and 
make them so keenly aware of the body's sensibilities, as the seas 
and skies, the motion of tides and clouds and gulls, the colours and 
movements of rock-pool denizens, the small, humming life which 
inhabited the sun-warmed turf of the Yreix Stone. Every cloudless 
morning Evan brought his boat round to their beach. He would 
take them to the Yreix Stone and leave them there with wood for 
fire, a kettle and a pan and such other gear and provision as they 
needed; the fishing tackle with which Edward became hourly more 
handy; and books, although they did little reading. Edward's, all 
that week, was Die Mathematik der Mayas. But Ludwig Aaron- 
sohn's great book was, perhaps, too severe a corrective to their 
sensualism; or it may have been that the German philosopher's 
involved sentences were too much for Edward's rusty German. So 
that although he had long wished to understand the Maya use of 
the zero and their system to the base twenty, he made little progress 
with the book and, when Celia slept in the sun, abandoned Aaron- 
sohn for her copy of Mansfield Park. 

They swam, naked, for hours; they lay on the short grass in the 
sun; they made love; they studied, with the minute, slow pleasure of 
infinite leisure, the leaves and flowers and stalks of thrift and thyme 
and sedum and a small, purple statice. Edward fished, and since all 
Europe and half Asia was then living on rationed scraps of the basest 
kind of eating-matter, he may, perhaps, have recaptured some of the 
anxiety, some of the excitement of the men who once fished for 
dear life and not for sport or wage. They rejoiced, like children, in 
finding shrimps and small brown and green crabs, and the pool- 
trapped, diversely beautiful fry of many fishes. They watched cor- 
morants dive for mackerel and, all one day, were entertained by a pair 
of gannets. They shrimped the falling tide with a huge net Evan 
lent them, crouching excitedly over it at the end of each sweep, 
sorting the shrimps from tiny plaice and soles, three-inch conger- 
eels, frantic crablets and jelly-fish of pale beige most beautifully 

209 



shot with mauve. Twice, at the slack of the tide, they swam side 
by side from the Yreix Stone to their own beach below the house, 
leaving Evan to fetch off their things, landing nearly exhausted and 
spending the afternoons walking the vast beach of wet and gleaming 
sand and rocky massifs draped with green and brown weed, peering 
into fresh rock-pools, combing the tide-wrack for the strange, small 
detritus of sea-animals and ships, and racing each other over a 
paced quarter-mile of level sand. 

On the last day of their week, when they returned to the cottage 
they found a note secured to the doorstep by a stone. It was from 
Dalrymple : Sorry to miss you. Any hope of seeing you at our ^social 
evening' tonight? You'll be very welcome. Even scribbling that note 
on his knee or the cottage doorpost he had self-consciously put the 
vulgarism of social evening between inverted commas. 

It was a feeling of wanting to give thanks which made Edward 
suggest that they should go; after all, he had never agreed with 
his uncle that there was no merit in works. 

'I don't want to break our privacy,' Celia said. 

*Nor do I. But I don't think it will.' 

'All right.' 

It was still very warm. They walked down the hillside side by side, 
seeing a brown and buff world less fresh than their own. From time 
to time, as on their wedding-day, their hands touched and their 
little fingers entwined in mutual reassurance. 

The party was on the lawn, contained between the central block 
and the side wings of the hospital. Afterwards Edward recalled 
little about it: for when some object looms very large and demand- 
ing of attention in the foreground, all beyond it becomes, as it 
were, invisible. The object which fulfilled this condition for him as 
they stepped off the path on to the grass aiid moved towards the 
group of deck-chairs, bentwood chairs, tables and young men and 
women, and as Dalrymple detached himself from that group to 
come to them, was David Mendoza, imperfectly disguised by dark 
glasses, taking a glass of what might be wine from the hand of a 
girl in nurse's uniform. 

For some reason Edward was astounded ; not having seen him for 
so long, he must have been thinking of David as dead, or as never 
having had any real existence. As for the 'coincidence' of thus 
coming upon him, there was nothing more likely: Chi non muore si 
revede. As a soldier — and he would have joined the army even if he 
had not been conscribed — sooner or later he would have lost his 

210 



nerve. Not, Edward thought, that it would have been danger, fear, 
that brought Edward to Dalrymple's hospital : boredom, disgust, the 
horror of living without privacy in order to inflict death, one or all 
of these would have brought him to that pass. It was as the colonel 
had said: a man who no longer wanted to inflict death was done for, 
mad. These were Edward's thoughts. 

When David saw him it seemed to Edward that his friend's face 
lost all colour; yet he could not be certain that it had not been as 
pale already. Vaguely aware of CeUa and Dalrymple exchanging 
civilities at his side, he went through a small crowd of men and one 
or two women making talk and said, 'Hallo, David.' 

'This is a very nice surprise, Edward,' Mendoza said, his eyes 
lowered, and speaking in the thin and waspish tone he had once 
used to offer Edward money for a service. Edward supposed that 
David was reproaching him for the fact that their meeting was 
a casual one; that chance and not intention had brought it 
about. 

'How did you . . .' he began, and then hesitated, feeUng that he 
was being clumsy. 

'Fall into the colonel's clutches?' David said. 

'You could put it that way.' 

'My dear, you couldn't put it any other way. I went out of my 
mind after Walcheren.' 

'Good God, were you in that?' 

Dalrymple's voice, conscientiously benevolent, bleated at Ed- 
ward's elbow: 'Ah, Major Mendoza, I see you've made a friend.' 
Major, Edward thought; David was in plain clothes so that he had 
not known. Edward looked round uneasily for Celia ; she was talk- 
ing to one of the nurses. David said, 'Oh, I've known Tillotson for 
years.' 

'Happy reunion, then,' Dalrymple said, and, 'Quite a benefit day 
for you. One old friend on his way from London, and another out 
of the blue!' He moved away, smiling hke a rather old curate, 
towards some other group. As soon as he was out of hearing, Edward 
said, 'What friend, from London?' David ignored the question and 
said, 'I can't bear it! If it weren't that he'd never do anything out of 
line, I'd take him for a bloody Buchmanite.' 

'Are you better now ? What . . . well, I mean, what happened 
when you came here ?' 

'If you mean am I sane, say so, Edward. The answer is, I have no 
idea. When I came here they put me to sleep in a cell with an 

211 



observation window. They fed my body with a tube and kept me 
asleep, and they peered at me through the hole in the wall, Dal- 
rymple and his underlings. When I was allowed to be awake again, 
they said I was better. What have you been doing in the great war 
to save democracy? Only, make it brief, for God's sake. Excepting 
for the subjects of America, Russia and Mr. Churchill, in that order, 
war is the champion monumental bore, and in the condition old 
Frankie Dalrymple's reduced me to, I can't take it.' 

*I accidentally invented a radio gadget. It got me a soft number. 
I've collected no honours' — Edward saw him flush — 'only a large 
income.' 

Something of his old manner returned; his eyes brightened. He 
said, 'Thank God for you! You don't think I wanted what they 
gave me, do you ? They sneaked up on me while I was busy killing 
their opposite numbers over there, and later when I was blacked 
out. But I'll bet it was no accident that kept you clear of this filthy 
brawl. You always had the makings.' 

Edward did not want to talk about that; there was a mixture of 
envy and contempt in David's manner which embarrassed him. 
He said, 'What are you going to do now ?' 

'What, indeed? My father is being very tiresome. He considers 
that I should work for my money. My own idea is to turn hermit.' 

'Hermit?' 

'Coming up through Italy — I was with the Eighth Army for a 
year — I came across rather a nice villa, not far from Sorrento. It 
was empty — the local partisans had hanged the owner from his 
bedroom balcony. A few of us were entertained by a man called 
Gela, Count Gela, the biggest landowner in Southern Italy. He 
arranged for me to see the place. I want to buy it.' 

'What will you do there ?' 

David shrugged and said, 'Cultivate my garden. I haven't got it 
yet. My father can't quite queer my pitch — there's always Mummy, 
thank God.' 

Edward was not attending to him with more than the skin of his 
mind. It had suddenly struck him that he was behaving treacher- 
ously : he had not even mentioned Celia. In a way which he did not 
understand, he was afraid to. He swallowed the drink which some- 
one had put into his hand, and said, 'I say, there's someone here I 

want you to ' and before he could complete the sentence knew 

that he should have tried to avoid the introduction this was leading 
up to. 'Someone ' David prompted. He looked earnestly at 

212 



Edward and deliberately removed the dark glasses he was wearing. 
It seemed to Edward that his friend's face was paler than ever; 
and his eyes, exposed, were full of an intensified chronic anxiety. 
Edward became aware of a presence, a faint, sour body odour: 
Dalrymple was with them again, saying, 'Your wife's been telling 

me, Tillotson, that you're an angler. I was wondering ' 'Your 

wife ?' David said. They looked at each other. Dalrymple might not 
have existed. Edward looked away from David's eyes. Dalrymple 
withdrew to attend to a new arrival. Celia was moving through the 
crowd towards them, smiling vaguely. Edward called, 'Celia! 
Here a minute.' He took her hand as she came within range and 
drew her forward, with his heart beating uncomfortably hard. 
He said, 'This is David Mendoza. David, Celia.' 

Celia looked surprised and said, 'Edward's always talking about 
you, Mr. Mendoza.' David stared at her, his face sulky. Edward 
was aware of Dalrymple approaching again, accompanied by an 
officer in uniform with the red tabs of the Staff. David said to 
Celia, 'Is he? Such a bore for you. How d'ye do?' His eyes shifted 
from her to a point over Edward's shoulder. Although his face did 
not change his voice sounded the correct note of pleasure as he ex- 
claimed, 'Michael! My dear fellow! This is really friendly.' Edward 
half turned and his face lost all colour. Dalrymple, beaming, was 
saying, 'Mr. and Mrs. Tillotson, Colonel Custer-Dwyer.' Custer- 
Dwyer was shaking, then holding, David's hand. Edward did not 
hear what they said to each other. Celia watched Edward's face; 
her own was cold, without indulgence; she might be asking herself 
what she was doing in that galley. Then Colonel Custer-Dwyer was 
speaking to Edward with a singular light in his eye, the light of 
mischief proper to a child : a depraved child. He said, 'Well, Tillot- 
son, how's the world treating you?' Edward managed to say, 
'All right, thank you.' 

'Saw an old chum of yours no longer ago than yesterday,' the 
colonel continued. He paused, and with a quick, cruel glance at 
CeUa, said, 'In Paris.' Celia looked, coldly inquiring, at Edward, 
who said, 'Really?' and made a movement to withdraw. 'Doris,* 
the colonel said and turning to David, 'You never met her, did 

you ? Gone to the bad, as they used to say. A poiile de luxe ' he 

turned to Celia and said, 'Saving your presence, Mrs. Tillotson.' 
He looked, and bore himself, like one of those professional army 
officers who occasionally publish a volume of verse almost worthy 
to be called poetry. CeUa remained grave. 'Fortunately,' Custer- 

213 



Dwyer went on, 'Doris's old chums aren't particular, eh, Tillotson? 
She told me you had a jolly romp together.' 
* * * 

The evening light behind the Yreix Stone was the colour of 
autumn crocus. For the fourth time Edward said, *I tell you the 
meeting was accidental.' 

'Was it?' 

'Yes, it was. You know perfectly well Custer-Dwyer has it in for 
me.' 

'So you say.' 

'Christ. I told you at the time ' 

'Oh, yes, you told me.' 

At last they fell silent. They were sitting on the wall outside the 
cottage. The autumn-crocus sky turned to cyclamen and green. 
Edward offered Celia a cigarette. She took one and he lit it for her. 
She said, 'There's the things you tell me. And the things you don't.' 

'What things that I don't?' he said, aggressively. She made no 
answer. With a feeling as physically uncomfortable as acute hunger, 
he wanted to tell her about Eileen and her son Arthur. He said 
nothing. Celia's face was set in lines of anger. Presently she got up 
and said, 'I'm going in. I don't know. I don't know what sort of a 
man you are.' Her tone was one of resentful disappointment. 



214 



PART THREE 

*. . . who is he who will affirm that there must be 
a web of flesh and bone to hold the shape of love ? 

William Faulkner 



Edward was going to be late. A potential client, Mr. Sudhindra 
Nath Das, kept him at the office, not talking of the business between 
them, but going on and on about the difficulties Indian national 
feeling would put in the way of his placing the contract with Llewel- 
lyn and Powel. The sparsely scored music of his Oriental voice, to 
Edward's ears a monotonous whine, was intensely irritating until, 
while keeping the deferentially attentive look firmly stuck to his 
face, Edward began picturing an oscillograph of that merciless 
rise and fall, rise and fall, and considering its scarce harmonics. It 
would be a contribution to the forwarding of the Voice-Fabricator 
which he had been working on, in his leisure moments, in the 
laboratory. Not that he had had much leisure since Llewellyn had 
quarrelled with Powel and left the firm to join a brother in Colombia ; 
and he, Edward, had been made a director. Powel gave him all the 
dirty work. Mr. Das, for instance. But he hardly heard what Das 
was saying. The Indian's voice rose — Naturally, he said — a series of 
squeaks with a curious guttural about the double L, almost Welsh — 
Naturally y I myself am free from such prejudice. Colonialism, im- 
perialism ... He lifted his little brown hands and made a funny 
face . . . but one is the servant of one's country, and one's country is 
one's people . . . the imaginary oscillograph trace rose exactly as far 
above the line as it sank below it, each peak and trough equal to 
the last . . . and a people. Mister Tillotson, is the sum of their preju- 
dices. Yess, yess, yess, that is so. 

Edward got rid of him at last, wondering if his long epilogue to 
their business discussion had been a more or less subtle plea for 
some sort of personal compensation in return for flouting the 
vulgar prejudices of his nation. Well, if so, that was Powel's job. 
Edward had no power to bribe and corrupt on behalf of Llewellyn 
and Powel. 

Even the new TL.4 did not enable him to drive fast through the 
traffic of a Friday night in summer. He was over half an hour late 
by the time he reached the beginning of the arterial road. Yesterday 
the pile of old motor-car tyres in the wasteland triangle had been a 
hill; now it was a mountain of rubber. Held up by the red light he 

216 



r 



could hear the juke-box in the pull-up facing the rubber dump; 
a female tenor with serious throat trouble was bawling a jazz-carol 
above the thumping of stationary diesel engines in the traffic block. 
Liddle boy Jesus, lyin' in de straw, she snarled; the snarl of engines 
answered her as the green light released them. 

Edward used the TL.4's acceleration, improved by David 
Mendoza's race mechanics, to make up a little time. That attracted 
a police patrol. The complacent authority expressed by the arm 
which peremptorily waved him down and into the side of the road 
infuriated him. But the police, that week, were being more sorrowful 
than angry: the senior of the pair spoke to him as to a thought- 
less child. The anger inside him was like acid indigestion. He had 
always been afraid of the police in a generaUzed way; getting into 
the poHce-paying classes had turned that fear into truculence. But 
Celia had trained him to swallow his back-answers. All he said was, 
Tt wasn't dangerous. Not in this car.' The policeman, with nursery- 
maid patience, pointed out that he had not said that Edward's 
driving was dangerous \ only that it was inconsiderate. Edward prayed 
silently, Christ give me patience; if he spoke the policeman might 
get really cross and slap him or stand him in the corner wearing a 
placard saying E. Tillotson is a nasty, rude boy. With solemn care, 
as if it were a small work of piety, the policeman read his driving 
licence and insurance certificate. They let him go at last, and he 
drove with one eye on the rear-view mirror, sure that they would 
follow him; they did. 

Thus shadowed by the law, he crawled in the reeking, clamorous 
stream past the filling-stations and pull-ups, through the one-time 
hamlets now absorbed into the long serpentine squalor of the road, 
past the neo-Jacobean drinking-hells, through the twenty-house to 
the acre estates, their TV and VHP antennae bristling like quills 
upon the fretful propentine, each quill an assurance that that house 
was paying him a few pence in annual royalty. Through the ten to 
an acre section, past the converted barn roadhouses with romantic 
names, and into the four to the acre zone, the Noel Coward country, 
where the model ceased to be Jacobean and became Georgian. So 
out of the new-houses belt entirely, and into the land of the old 
tarted-up, the genuine English countryside, its foreground the grass 
verge discoloured by oil fumes, its middle plane the cottages with 
notices saying Teas, Eggs, Bedding-plants, its background the 
pretty houses, the old red tiles and new yellow thatch, the houses 
where hotch-cha-cha had been added to hey-nonny-nonny and 

217 



even, as Celia said, the 'bloody 'oUy'ocks' looked two-dimensional, 
illustrations, front-covers to magazines about home and garden. 

Several cars crowded the drive of his own specimen of this 
house-class. Powel's Bentley was there; he had left Edward to cope 
with Mr. Das to have time for another go at Celia: he was persistent, 
he had read in a book that perseverance was the thing. Behind the 
Bentley was Canon Cromer's Siddeley-Deasy, the brasses of its 
acetylene lamps as bright yellow as the rudbeckia in Celia's her- 
baceous border. It was in the Siddeley-Deasy that the Canon had 
won what the newspapers call the Old Crocks' Race. Nor was the 
Canon's passion for superannuated ironmongery as dotty as it 
seemed: as Powel said, the smartest P.R. man in the business could 
hardly have thought up anything apter to get him more than his 
fair share of front page space. 

Bast trailing from the pocket of his sackcloth apron, Vinson, well 
into the skin of his part as an olde tyme gardener, shambled up as 
Edward got out of his car, saying, with relish, *One of 'em run over 
the corner of the lawn. I told 'em, I says, the master'll create about 
this, and small wonder.' Edward had come to suspect Vinson's 
Sussex burr of being as reconstructed as the lych-gate of the village 
churchyard. Edward moved towards the house, just as David's town 
car entered the drive and pulled up behind the Canon's antique. 
They went in together. David was still wearing a black tie in mourn- 
ing for his mother. Celia backed into the hall as they entered it, 
saying to someone in the drawing-room full of noise, '. . . my dear, 
no ! Total historectomy. The lot! And now, of course, she's convinced 
she'll be growing a beard and moustache.* Above the noise of the 
hi-fi record-player dispensing a too sonorous version of something 
from Salad Days, Edward heard Cynthia Carol's voice answering, 
*My dear, such an improvement!' Celia, turning, seeing them, said, 
'Hallo, David' and, to Edward, 'You might bloody-well be in time 
for once.' She crossed the hall to the kitchen. David said, 'Oh, dear. 
Oh dear!' 

'I'm going up to wash,' Edward said. 'Want to come ?' 

'No. I'd better go in.' 

When Edward came down a few minutes later, David and Canon 
Cromer were standing at the drinks table discussing poacher 
trouble. David said that Mr. Mendoza senior was losing five hundred 
pheasants a year from his East Anglian estate. 'Not that my father 
ever shot a bird in his life. He says, you know, that he is practically 
a Buddhist in such matters. Besides, he's very short-sighted. But 

2l8 



he has to have the shooting for business friends. The pheasants 
cost him two pounds a head to rear.' Edward knew that David was 
making this up: he never saw his father. 

*Do they, indeed?' the Canon said. 'My own cost me rather less, 
five-and-thirty shilUngs if I can trust my gamekeeper's figures. 
I often wonder what the old King would have said to such costs!' 
The Canon raised a hand and lowered it slowly, contriving thus to 
express what, doubtless, would have been the old King's conster- 
nation. T well remember,' he continued, his round, bland, Anglo- 
Saxon mug well-remembering, 'when he, George V you know, came 
to shoot over the duke's preserves in my first parish, and the duke 
was good enough to invite me — I fancy they were short of a gun . . .' 
David's face was politely attentive, but when the Canon moved away, 
his glass refilled with Tio Pepe, to button-hole Hugh Carol who was 
sorting discs by the record-player (Carol was North American 
Electrics' London man and Bayard Orage's son-in-law), he said, 
T don't see how the old boy does it. His place is something like a 
thousand acres, isn't it ?' 

'Eight hundred.' 

'Do Anglican canons have expense accounts?' 

'I don't see why not. They say the C. of E.'s very forward- 
looking nowadays. They have advertising and public relations, so 
why not expense accounts? Anyway, his brother's the Cromer of 
Cromer, Weinthal and van Tilden.' 

The record-player was giving them Oh, what a beautiful morning. 
Cynthia Carol, looking old despite ash-blonde hair dressed as a 
close-fitting helmet, came to talk to Edward, saying, 'Who's the 
character swathed in bandages who keeps talking about his friend- 
ship with some Kraut politician?' 

'Maxie Grenfell.' 

'From the bits you can see through the bandages it looks more 
like Grunfeldt.' 

Edward suffered the flicker of resentment, the small heart-pain 
of shame. Celia, arriving at the table for three gins and tonics and 
a sherry, said, 'It was. At least the accident got rid of the R.A.F. 
moustache. I can't think why we have him.' 

'Because,' Edward said, 'he owns the Old Rectory. In subruralia 
you invite houses, not people.' 

'Grenfell,' Cynthia said. 'Isn't he the man who publishes high- 
brow pornography?' 

'Careful!' Edward said. 'Don't forget he was acquitted by an 

219 



Old Bailey court. It turned out to be literature he was publishing.' 

'Anyway, who beat him up?* 

'Nobody beat him up,' Edward said, mixing his drink. *He was 
thrown, out hunting.' 

Carol, still by the record-player, put on a new disc and the harsh, 
gay voice of Ethel Merman sang Call me madam. 

'You mean there's a hunt ? Here?' Cynthia said. 

'The Old West Sturry. M.F.H., Sir Guzman Bayonese— the 
never-never furniture shops man. There's a story that his hounds 
once took him for a fox and that he gave them the best run they'd 
ever had. He doesn't ride himself, to hounds or anything else. 
But he writes cheques.' 

'But it's impossible, West Sturry's a suburb. I know, because you 
go there on a red bus, not a green one.' 

'A lot you know about buses,' Powel said, joining the group at 
that moment. 

'You can see the destination boards quite clearly from inside a 
Cadillac,' Edward explained, and, grinning at Powel, 'Or a Bentley 
for that matter.' 

Carol had again changed the disc on the record-player. Cynthia 
said, *I like this tune,' and began quietly singing the words . . . 
/ hear music and there's no one there. She broke off and said, 'So 
Mr. Grenfell was hurt in the hunting-field. Who'd've thought \tV 

'Poor Maxie's downfall was a perambulating fried-fish shop,' 
Edward said. 'A truck, you know, all hospital white and chromium. 
It has a musical gong, one of those arpeggio things, to apprise 
housewives of its arrival. Rather pretty, really, but Maxie's horse 
didn't like it. There was a lot of confusion that day. The fox went 
under the barbed wire fence round the new Electricity Board 
transformer station at Nether Sturry, hounds went after it and got 
into the switch-room and lost their heads. Two were electrocuted . . .* 

'Poor darlings!' Cynthia said. Powel asked what next and Edward 
said, 'O, there was a power failure all over the district and none of 
the farmers could do their milking. There's nobody in these parts 
who can still do it by hand. The fox and some of the hounds came 
out on the far side of the transformer station. The fox seemed to be 
making for the Ardiham municipal sewage-farm. Maxie saw it and 
yelled Gone Away! and put his horse at a hawthorn hedge in his 
excitement. Unfortunately, what used to be pasture on the other 
side is now a forty-acre dump for old iron, one of Moynihan's 
ventures. The Moynihan who got four years in the Catholic 

220 



Co-operative Building Society swindle. Maxie came off into a pile 
of half-dismantled Churchill tanks . . .' 

'Hinc illae lacrimae.' This from Carol, who had abandoned music 
for conversation and overheard the last sentence as he joined the 
group. Edward said, *I always forget Americans are educated,' and 
Carol replied, 'I saw it in Reader's Digest.' 

It was like that the whole evening; it gave Edward a headache. 
Presently he found himself with Powel in a group round the record- 
player with Hugh Carol, who had been head of N.A.E. in Bengal 
before he was given the British office. He had liked India and was 
a student of Zen Buddhism, kept open house for Indian visitors, 
and was, what Edward had often heard of but never met before, a 
Liberal, He was still sorting discs. Edward said, 'Hallo, can I help?' 

'Last time you were at our place you said you had the Miracle 
in the Gorhals music' 

Tt should be here somewhere.' Edward could not find the ballet- 
music Carol wanted. He put on an Armstrong disc. Off-sweet, the 
trumpet-call assailed their ears, sounding no charge, no retreat, 
only an ironical self-pity . . . poor me, poor me! Powel said, 'Sorry 
to leave that nigger on your hands.' 

Edward turned his back on him and said to Hugh Carol, 'This 
ignorant bastard calls Indians niggers.' 

'It's a chi-chi trick,' Hugh said, and to Powel, 'Have you any 
Indian blood?' Powel ignored him and said to Edward, 'How did 
it go ? You've got Das in the bag?' 

'I have not. I don't think we have a bag which would hold Das. 
There is an American tender, not to mention the Italian one.' 
Powel frowned and said to Carol, 'This man Das, Hugh . . . maybe 
you know him?' 

Hugh was hardly hstening; the trumpet called him. He nodded 
towards the record-player and said, 'This man Armstrong is the 
one I'm interested in. A subversive without saying a word. I won- 
der McCarthy hasn't had him on that shabby carpet of his. Just 
listen to the propaganda of defeat.' The trumpet shrieked, then 
began to mourn. Carol, replying belatedly to Powel, said, 'Das is 
a common name. You might as well ask me if I know Mr. Jones of 
Cardiff.' 

'Sudhindra Nath Das,' Edward said. 

*0h. Certainly, I know him.' 

'My impression,' Powel said, 'is that he can swing this thing. In 
theory he has to refer back to his committee, but in practice . . .' 

221 



He turned his handsome face, wearing the predatory mask, lower- 
Hp out-thrust, full on Carol. Only at the temples was there any 
white hair, and that was contrived by his barber. 'In practice?' 
Carol prompted. 

'It's not so much a question of what he'll take, but how he'd 
like it.' 

'A bribe?' 

*Yes. He's an Indian, after all.' 

A small part of the distaste he felt showed in Carol's long, pale 
face. He ran his hand through untidy, prematurely white hair, which 
sprang up about his combing fingers. Powel mitigated his offence 
at once, saying, *I mean, I know how to bribe an Englishman or a 
Yank, and any fool can bribe an Italian. But I don't know the form 
with wogs.' 

'I never had occasion to bribe or be bribed by a wog,' Hugh said, 
'but I imagine the form is the same as for your own people.' 

Powel shrugged and looked sulky. Cynthia Carol came up behind 
him and said, 'Hide me from that guy Grenfell. I don't care to hear 
what Sartre said to him last Tuesday week.' Edward looked round 
nervously, but Grenfell was talking Italian to Benvenuta, Celia's 
pretty Calabrian maid. Carol and Edward moved away. Hugh said, 
'How I hate your friend Powel.' *I hardly like any of my friends,' 
Edward said, and, 'What will happen if he tries to bribe Sudhindra 
Das?' 

'Das will accept the bribe.' 

Edward was disconcerted and Hugh saw that and laughed and 
said, 'He is a very polite man, you see. He would not want to hurt 
anyone's feelings.' 

'And we shall get the contract ?' 

'That will depend on whether your tender is the lowest, everything 
else being equal.' 

'You mean Das won't stay bribed ?' 

'He will accept the bribe because he would feel it the height of 
ill-breeding to refuse it, and because he has a large and demanding 
family. But his loyalty to his government is absolute.' 

Thinking of Powel if they lost the contract, Edward began to 
laugh. They moved to the drinks table to fill their glasses, where 
David and Canon Cromer were talking motor-cars. Edward left 
Carol with them, to collect dirty glasses. Grenfell was talking to 
Cynthia Carol and Powel. Edward heard him say, '. . . lives in Italy 
because he has to. If his father knew he was over here, there'd be 

222 



trouble.' They were talking about David Mendoza. Edward flushed. 
After David had been discharged by the medical board he had given 
in to his father and gone back to work for Mendoza & Co. Then 
there had been a series of minor scandals concerning youths in the 
factory and offices. Passing the gossipers on his way back with the 
glasses, Edward heard Grenfell saying, '. . .it was two years ago, at 
the time one of the tobacco companies — Imperial, was it, or 
Carreras? — were bidding for Mendoza's, one of them tried to black- 
mail him and when David told him to go to hell, this fellow went to 
the old man . . .' It was true. The old man wanted to break with his 
son then. David's mother interfered. It was arranged for David to 
have fifteen thousand a year from one of Mendoza's Italian companies 
provided he agreed to live abroad. They prosecuted the blackmailer: 
one of those 'Mr. A' cases, and Edward had thought the secret 
well kept. But Maxie Grenfell knew everything. 

When Edward got back to the table Canon Cromer was saying, 
*They tell me, Mendoza, you'll be driving a Ferrari for the rest of 
this season's racing.' 'They're the only cars that can give the 
Mercedes team a run for their money,' David said. Cromer accepted 
a sherry from Edward and said, T thought of using motor-racing 
as the theme of my Sunday piece, one week.' He wrote a column, 
a sort of sermon, every Sunday, for a Sunday paper. David said, 
'Condemnatory, I fear, sir.' 

'Why should you think so?' 

Powel joined the bunch . . . they were eminently a bunch; it was 
the collective noun for them. He said, 'Someone get that man Gren- 
fell out of my hair. He follows me about telling me how it was when 
he had a talk with de Gaulle at somewhere les-deux-eglises.' 

'Actually, there's only one church,' David said, and, to Cromer, 
'Then you aren't against us, sir ?' 

'No. I shall argue, however, that you, like all of us, should be 
dedicated. The torero, before he enters the arena to fight the bull, 
hears mass.' 

'You think God would accept my attempt to drive faster than the 
other chaps, as a sacrifice ?' 

'Why not?' 

Edward did not hear any more. But later, when the guests were 
going home and David was cranking the Canon's ancient machine 
for him, they were still at it, for he saw the Canon lean out of the 
high window of his driving-seat and heard him say, 'It is simply 
a question of doing what we do with Him in our hearts. There are 

223 



no exceptions. In India there are men who steal for God's sake. 
Even the prostitute . . .' 

Cynthia Carol, pulling her gloves on as she came out of the door 
behind Edward, said, 'Isn't it awful the way clergymen talk about 
religion nowadays ?' David and Celia came out, David saying, 'Well, 
I shan't see you until the race. And then to the villa. I'm looking 
forward to having you there.' Cynthia said, 'Italy? How I envy you.' 
'Yes, it'll be lovely,' Celia said, and went back into the house. 
* * * 

When they had all gone Edward lingered in the garden. A black- 
bird sang sweetly in the old apricot-tree ; another answered from the 
great clump of rhododendrons on the bank behind the house. As 
the light failed the shell-pink water-lilies in the pond glowed like 
pale lanterns. He could still see the fish moving among the shimmer- 
ing stems of these flowers, rising, diving, circling in the translucent 
water: it was like looking down on the choreographic flight of 
seagulls from the edge of a high cliff. Out in the garden he could 
pretend that Celia's resentment would have departed with their 
guests, although he knew that it had little to do with his being late. 
She came to the door, a column of pale light in the gloaming, and 
called to him, 'Don't you want any dinner?' 

He went to her and followed her into the dining-room. Ham and 
salad, cheese, fruit and wine were set out on the round, highly 
poHshed table. For some minutes they ate in silence. Then, still 
looking at her plate, she said, 'Gough rang you.' 

'Gough?' It was automatic, 'instinctive' as they say, to pretend 
not immediately to recognize who Gough was. Celia looked at him, 
then, without indulgence, and said, 'Gough. Messrs. Valentine 
Gough and Sons, Builders and Decorators, of Ardiham in this 
county.' This lapse into irony gave him time to compose an atti- 
tude. He said, 'Wanted money I suppose ?' 

'Why so tough ?' she said. 'He's entitled to it, isn't he ?' 

'He can wait, can't he? He'll get it. We all have to wait nowadays. 
It's the penalty for living a generation ahead of the national income.' 

'He has waited. And we're talking about Gough's bill, not lunatic 
national finance. We're also talking about my feehngs: do you 
think I enjoy having to talk to creditors, in a rage at your welsh- 
ing?' 

'One creditor, singular,' Edward said, trying to Hghten the 
atmosphere, 'one lone, lorn creditor.' 

'Yes, you've managed to head the others off no doubt. Rather a 

224 



pity, don't you think, that it had to be that particular one who 
found me in ? Or perhaps it doesn't mean anything to you ? I daresay 
you've forgotten what it was for.' 

'Redoing your bedroom and sitting-room,' Edward said. 

'My birthday present.' 

'I'm sorry.' 

'You always are. You're sorry, you know you're at fault, you admit 
it, oh so readily! . . .' She was beginning to talk excitedly, and when 
she did so in anger, a harsh, curiously masculine note invaded her 
voice. She said, 'Why don't you beat your breast and cry mea culpa, 
mea culpa} Then you'd feel at peace with yourself, you'd have done 
all you expect of yourself. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that being 
frank about your own weaknesses, admitting your own wrong- 
doing is a particularly contemptible kind of slyness ?' 

'You mean I'd do better to be hypocritical?' Edward said, glad 
that she seemed to have started a generalization. He should have 
known better, for she took it to herself and said, 'It'll get you no- 
where to try abusing me. And anyway, at least hypocrisy requires 
an effort. Isn't it supposed to be a tribute to virtue? You pay it, 
too; there's no genuine candour in your confessions, they're super- 
hypocritical.' 

It happened that Edward had been reading what he thought was 
the best modern novel he had yet found, Helen Eustis's The Fool 
Killer. And suddenly, as he sat silent under Celia's indictment, a 
phrase from it came into his mind . . . 'Even if you hadn't forgot 
nothing she was a woman could always remember something you 
should of forgot . . .' And despite his accumulating wretchedness, 
manifest as a sourness in the stomach and a racing heart and a 
pressure behind the eyes, he suddenly laughed. Celia, who had 
been flushed, turned as white as her dress. She said, 'So you think 
it's funny. You . . .' 

'It's nothing, I'm probably getting hysterical,' he interrupted 
her hastily, terrified that she would say something he could not 
absorb into his love for her, something that would lie between them 
and rot and stink. He went on, 'I am sorry, really. What happened 
was, I got caught when Ogilvie lost his argument with the Income 
Tax Commissioners and I had to find nine hundred at once.' 

She said, 'I don't want to pry into your private financial arrange- 
ments. I am only too well aware that you prefer to keep them to 
yourself.' 

'It isn't that, CeHa, it's just that . . .' 

225 



Tve told you, I don't want to hear about it. But with the income 
you're supposed to be making — I say supposed because I have to 
guess what it is from the way we Hve — I should've thought we could 
pay our tax and our bills when they fall due.' 

There was no reasonable answer to that ; he got up and went into 
his own room. His hands were shaking and he felt sick. He found 
Gough's bill and came back into the dining-room with it and a 
cheque-book, and sat down again and wrote out the cheque, two 
hundred and nineteen pounds. He pushed his half-eaten plate of 
food away to make room. He gave Celia the bill and the cheque 
and said, Tost it yourself, will you ?' She looked at his plate and 
said, 'Aren't you going to finish that?' 

'I don't want any more, really.' 

'I've taken your appetite away, have I ?' 

*I wish you'd realize,' he said, 'that I'm not blaming you; that 
I defend myself instinctively, like a rat in a corner. It's you who 
are right. Quite right. But . . . yes, it's taken away my appetite, 
I can't help it, it has.' 

That was the level they were down to, and had been for what 
seemed to him a very long time. Even by ordinary calendar reckon- 
ing, it was two years since CeHa's mother had come slowly into his 
room one night, the room she alone called his 'den', and standing 
just inside the door, making that characteristic motion of the hand 
before the face, had said, humbly, apologetically, 'I've got to go, 
Edward, I mean leave here. I can't stand it.' 

Her flat, sad finality had hurt his heart far more than any outburst 
of passionate anger could have done. All he could say was, 'Our 
quarrelUng? I do my best to . . .' She did not let him finish. 'I'm 
not blaming you, or Celia,' she had interrupted, shaking her head 
at the chair he pushed towards her, standing there small and dried- 
up and old, saying she'd never been one to allot blame because you 
never knew, but that she was tired and — the limit, this, of her pro- 
test — 'didn't feel up to it.' Meaning, by that, the nervous effort 
of living with her own daughter and son-in-law. She stuck to that, 
insisted that she would do very well in one of those homes run by 
professionals for old people. And all Edward could do to offset his 
shame and remorse was to ensure against his own money feckless- 
ness by borrowing from the bank to pay the fees of her home 
five years in advance, a fantastically unbusinesslike thing to do, 
but all the relief he could afford himself. Celia and he had been 
visiting her mother in the pleasant village mansion where the home 

226 



was installed, ever since, but never, not once, together. At each 
visit Mrs. Woodreeve had withdrawn farther from them, or at 
least from him, so that he was sometimes inclined to be hurt by the 
decline, the failure of her interest in him, the drying up of her 
affection. 

Celia rang the bell and asked for coffee. And speaking not angrily 
but in a sorrow Edward would not believe in but insisted to himself 
was designed to exasperate, she said that he must understand her 
position, that she did not know where they were, for all she knew 
nothing was ever paid for. And, at his gesture of impatience, 'But 
it's so! I don't know why you don't tell me things. If things aren't 
going well with us, why hide the fact ? All I care about is to know. 
I'm perfectly willing to help. I'd go back to Fleet Street tomorrow.' 

*It isn't like that. More than half what I get is in inventor's 
royalties, which means that . . .' 

'That we live on borrowed money. But why live so high, then?' 

'Advanced, not borrowed.' 

Tor Christ's sake, don't quibble,' she shouted, in a sudden gust 
of rage. 

Tt's not really a quibble. To me it seems that you're making a 
tragic mountain out of a commonplace molehill.' Edward knew, of 
course, that this was not so; that she had not been talking merely 
about money any more than he had; that there was something else, 
important, behind her discontent and his defensiveness and evasive- 
ness. She came out with something of the kind after the silence they 
had kept while Benvenuta served the coffee. 'It's the way we live. 
Floundering about.' 

Edward had a vision of a fish flapping and gaping on wet sand. 
But this getting near to the bone instead of scratching the skin 
broke his control. He was suddenly hysterically angry, not because 
she was wrong but because she was right. Floundering. Casting 
wildly about and not knowing that there was no help. Grabbing at 
this and that — an evening with the boys — Powel, God help him, was 
a 'boy' if ever there was one. And buying things, surrounding 
oneself with a barrier of enamelled and chromium-plated machinery. 
Above all, those two surreptitious visits to Eileen in time ostensibly 
given to his aunt in her trouble, the first just before Walter Tillotson 
was certified as insane, the second after he had been taken away, 
crying in a loud and toneless voice that it was a terrible thing to fall 
into the hands of the living God. Edward had, on both occasions, 
spent two hours of the whole day he was supposed to be dedicating 

227 



to 'cheering up poor Aunt Sarah'. It was the unhappy sense of being 
useless, of no comfort to her, which at first had driven him to leave 
her — 'We're frantically busy, you know, and there doesn't seem to 
be anything I can do. Let me know at once if you need money.' 
He had found himself in Ashersham with an empty afternoon on 
his hands. Halloband's clerk had given him Eileen's address. She 
was living in a cottage near a place called Bowden's Farm on the 
outskirts of Knutsden, sharing it with the childless wife of a tractor- 
driver who had emigrated to Canada and was supposed to send for 
her as soon as he was settled in a job. Both women worked in the 
fields and orchards, making good money. Eileen, Edward told him- 
self, would be out at work; Arthur at school. But it would be in- 
teresting to see where she lived, to be able to picture her circum- 
stances. When he drove up to the place, a cottage very like the one 
she had been born in, built of red brick in the late eighteenth century, 
the other woman was out at work, Arthur was at school; but Eileen 
was there, sitting on a chair outside the back door in the sunshine, 
perfectly still, doing nothing but look and listen. It crossed Edward's 
mind as he got out of the car and she rose and came to meet him, 
her expression one of surprise rather than pleasure, that he knew 
nobody else who could do that, could be still. 

All they did was sit and talk in the sun ; or rather, Edward talked 
and Eileen listened. Her body had broadened and thickened and 
her hands, held still and open on her knees, were etched with lines 
of ineradicable dirt, the nails worn to the quick, the skin so rough that 
the roughness could be seen as a texture. These hands had a strong 
and exciting power over Edward. He seemed to feel their roughness 
on the skin of his naked body, the idea was more exciting than if 
Eileen's hands had been smooth and manicured. His own unex- 
pected, unsuspected, perversity surprised him. His eyes, as he talked, 
went from her hands to her face: that had not changed. Protected 
from weathering by the conventional cosmetics, it had been pro- 
tected from thickening and coarsening like her body by the still 
lively wanton spirit which, Edward had always supposed, she had 
from her gipsy mother, that dark, angry, and lawless woman who, 
inexplicably, had married Figgis, although she was actively con- 
temptuous of, as Aunt Sarah put it, people living proper, in houses. 

Driving away from the cottage, it began to seem to Edward that 
what he had gone there for was admiration for having made himself 
a place on the fringe of the world belonging to the rich and mighty. 
There, in the road, had stood, gleaming in the sun, his two-thousand- 

228 



pound motor-car; there, well fitted to his body, setting off his 
unimpaired beauty, was his thirty-guinea suit, his three-guinea 
shirt, his seven-guinea shoes. His self, that interfering and deceitful 
entity, insisted that no, he had gone to Eileen to make sure that she 
was all right and to receive the comfort of her animal stillness, the 
sort of comfort you can get, in a lesser degree, from watching a cat 
relax. After all, he had received no word of praise or admiration for 
his achievements, nothing more than a 'You done all right for 
yerself, Ted' which was almost contemptuous, yet he was not dis- 
satisfied, was he ? Did not feel that he had not got what he went for, 
did he? 

It was neither the challenging mockery of Eileen's expression — 
a singularity probably as much due to the way her eyes were set 
in her head as to any feeling or idea as sophisticated as it seemed to 
express — nor even the curious attractiveness of her spoilt hands, 
which drove Edward to start making love to her on his second visit, 
and sent them at last, after the passage of years which seemed 
more numerous than they really were, to bed together. It was the 
circumstance that, when he arrived, on an afternoon when he now 
knew that he would find her but neither her friend nor her son in 
the house, she was taking a cake out of the oven and the cottage 
kitchen was full of its smell. For a moment, Edward was badly 
put out: it was the smell of Figgis's violent death. But it was also 
the smell of what had gone before that, and had never been finished 
and he had since been paying for. 

* * * 

Edward's noisy anger, then, was as much due to his knowledge 
that Celia was righter than she knew, as to any other cause. When, 
cryptically, Celia said, 'The trouble is neither of us have anything 
to do, really,' he worked himself into a rage such that he could take 
what she said as personal criticism. So he had nothing to do, eh? 
He didn't know how many more hours a week she expected him to 
work . . . Out it came, the vomit of self-pitiful commonplaces, 
vulgar, base and noisy, as if by clamour he could make himself 
believe that he was a martyr to hard labour in the service of — but 
of what ? House maintenance, perhaps ; of the smooth running of the 
car and some other ingenious pieces of ironmongery. Or Celia's 
comfort, Celia's standing among the other wives in the other mellow 
brick houses, the other gardens of delphiniums and lupins. But 
what comfort did she get from him? She listened to him, her face 
hardening, thinning, freezing; and when he moved to the door 

229 



and turned to spew out some final 'point' she said, *You sound 
exactly like a candidate for Moral Re-armament.' 

'You ill-tempered bitch!' he yelled at her. She ignored that and 
went on, 'And if you really don't know what I meant, if all this is 
anything more than screaming because it hurts, I made a bigger 
bloody mistake than I'd've thought possible.' 
* * * 

He went to his sitting-room. Celia, or Benvenuta, had put the 
afternoon's mail on his desk. For a long time he sat and stared at it, 
his stomach sour with contrived self-righteousness, his mind hot 
and clouded. When he started to feel ashamed he began to open 
letters by way of distraction. Bank-statement, with the figures in 
red and a little higher than he had expected; bills and receipts; 
a letter from a man who said he had invented an adaptation to 
television sets which made it possible to broadcast and receive 
smells. He wanted a thousand pounds for it, by return. There was 
a letter marked Private and Confidential which Edward left until 
the last. As he opened it he noticed that his hands were shaking, 
and he stopped moving and stared at them as if they were not his, 
but still interesting. He read the letter slowly, dully, not taking it 
in until he made a deliberate effort, going back to the start. 

Dear Sir^ 

Figgis and yourself . 
Our client^ Miss Eileen Figgis^ has instructed us to write to you 
in the matter of the maintenance arrangement [there followed a 
reference to the titles and dates of the documents in the case and 
the] The business she wishes us to discuss with you could better be 
dealt with in the course of a personal meeting than by letter. May 
I call to see you at your solicitor's office in London? Or would you 
prefer the meeting to take place at this address? 

Yours faithfully, 

Ivo Halloband. 

Edward had an impulse to ignore this letter ; or to send a postcard 
saying that he regarded all business between Halloband's client 
and himself, barring the standing banker's order, as at an end. 
Halloband's letter could mean only one thing: that Eileen had 
decided that his renewed interest in her was worth money. That, 
and not that he was a great man, was what the shining car, thfe thirty- 
guinea suit, had told her. But Edward's reluctance to break off all 
contact with Eileen was stronger than his self's resentment; it was 

230 



like an instinct, an intuition that one day he would need her for 
some purpose ; it was like the reluctance to throw away the chance of 
some excitement envisaged as pleasant. He took letter paper from a 
drawer and wrote this: 

Dear Mr. Halloband, 

I cannot think of any business between Miss Figgis and myself 
which would justify me in asking you to come to London, or me in 
going to Ashersham at a time when I am particularly busy. Could 
you indicate the nature of the business in a letter addressed to me 
at my office and marked personal ? 

He re-read this letter and it offended him; it represented nothing 
but one of the half-dozen attitudes he might strike ; it was a kind of 
lie, as every public act is a lie. He put it into an envelope, addressed 
and stamped it. 



SuDHiNDRA Nath Das was with Powel. Edward hesitated at the 
door and Powel said, 'Yes, come in, Tillotson.' That use of his sur- 
name, instead of the customary *Ed', as a derogation, was clumsy. 
Had not Das been left in Edward's hands yesterday? It was bad 
policy to run down his standing. He said, suddenly breezy, 'Morning, 
'Zeke. Morning, Mr. Das.' And to Powel, 'You're early this morning.' 

'Fortunately,' Powel said, 'someone in this outfit works.' Das 
gave his high, tittering laugh. He said, 'Oh, Mr. Tillotson, we have 
been discussing India's need for foreign capital. A most interesting 
subject.' 

'And the foreign capitalist's need of India,' Powel said. 'Don't 
let us forget that side of it.' 

'Heaven forbid!' Edward said. Powel glared at him. Mr. Das 
took off his glasses, and with them the keen brightness of his eyes. 
Powel said, 'Take the case of Mr. Das's wife's cousin . . .' 

'A member of our lower House,' Das put in, and murmured a name ; 
and Powel, nodding, touching the synthetic silver at his temples, 
said, 'Quite so. Well, there he is, with an excellent plan for pay-as- 
you-look television, supported by some advertising revenue, in 
Bengal. Nothing but shortage of capital prevents him from starting 
tomorrow . . .' 

231 



*It was a digression,' Das murmured, 'just a case in point, nothing 
to do with our business here . . .' 

'Nothing at all,' Edward said. 'And, coming to that business, here 
are the supplementary figures you asked me for.' Miss Gresham, 
his secretary, had put the papers into his hand as he left his office. 
Powel's reason for telling him about what Das called the 'digression' 
was, retrospectively, to put Hugh Carol in his place: he never liked 
the men whom Edward openly admired. And perhaps he wanted to 
humiliate Das. And there was also his concern to demonstrate that 
everyone, without exception, was on the make. 

'I was considering,' Powel said, ignoring Edward's attempt to 
sweep past the case of Mr. Das's wife's cousin, 'whether we shouldn't 
help ourselves to a new customer, an export customer at that, by 
persuading Mr. Das to let us help with some capital.' 

It was ten minutes before they got back to the subject of the Indian 
government contract. When, half an hour later. Das left them, Powel, 
with his eyes on the estimate worksheet they had based their tenders 
on, said that they had plenty of margin. 'Twenty thousand should 
satisfy the enterprising Babu. It's in the bag.' 

He might, Edward thought, be right. He had never known any- 
thing about the business side of their work. He knew that he was on 
the Board because it was useful for Powel to be able to say, 'Mr. 
Tillotson is our technical director: he will answer all your technical 
questions.' In practice, Edward mouthed the answers, Mr. Chase, 
in charge of research, provided them. Edward was a part of the 
firm's public relations. He knew it. From time to time he became 
faintly uneasy, when it seemed to him that their administration, 
advertising, public relations, accounts, even their profits, had grown 
like a cancer out of all proportion to the body they lived on, their 
actual manufacturing. But Powel knew best; and, if he did not, 
there was old Mr. Evans, a remote but prophetic figure, down in 
Wales. So, to his satisfied claim, Edward said only, 'Is it.^' 

But the question was by way of introduction to what, for a moment, 
Edward decided that he ought to tell Powel: that twenty thousand 
pounds would not keep Sudhindra Nath Das in Powel'sba g. 
Then Edward hesitated, brought up against the grey boredom of 
his own indifference. 'I daresay you're right,' he said, and left him. 
Miss Gresham followed Edward into his office and he asked her if 
he had anything else to do. Nothing. Nothing he could not pretend 
could wait, anyway. He told her he would spend the rest of the day 
in the laboratory. That was above their warehouse in Clerkenwell. 

232 



He drove there. His own corner of the laboratory was screened 
from the big, open laboratory where their technical men worked, 
by hardboard walls. The Voice-Fabricator was set up on a bench 
under a window which overlooked the workshops of a cork-importer ; 
sometimes Edward sat idly watching raw cork being unloaded in 
his yard. 

He sat on his high stool and fiddled with the trace-pencil of the 
apparatus — a short beam of light lo microns in diameter. Then he 
shifted the stool and did half an hour's steady work on the calcu- 
lations — his papers were always left in place, just as he had finished 
work, so that he could resume when he wanted to. Chase, who was 
in charge of the firm's big-screen project, lounged in at the end of 
that half-hour; he at once begun an instalment of his half-serious 
nagging about the V-Fab. being a wicked waste of time. Edward 
said he knew it was; he said, 'Being, Hke most scientists, illiterate, 
you won't know that a Frenchman named Pascal, who started 
all this, said that the physical sciences were all right as a hobby, 
but should on no account be taken seriously.' 

'Pascal ? I thought he was a sort of religious maniac ?' 

Chase played up like that; in point of fact he was a widely read 
man; his reading had destroyed his confidence in his science, or 
his talent would have carried him much higher than a fifteen 
hundred a year research job with Llewellyn and Powel. Edward 
went on, Tf I perfect this thing, I can't think of any possible use 
for it, unless the B.B.C. want a repertory company of synthetic 
opera-singing voices.' Chase, who took the other side w'henever 
Edward refused to defend himself, stroked his Japanese-warrior 
moustache and said that this was a good idea, 'F'rinstance no more 
trouble with Equity.' 

'Oh, I imagine the T.U.C. would insist on the machines becoming 
members. Now go away and let me get on with this.' 

'Is it true there's going to be another strike at the works?' 

'Not that I know of,' Edward said. T was there Wednesday. 
The degree of bloody-mindedness seems to be about average.' 

'Some of the tradesmen get more than I do,' Chase said, 'and if 
you ask me that's half the trouble. Look at it this way . . .' 

'Look,' Edward said, *I know all about it. It's terrible, all those 
working men having enough to eat and a roof over their heads, and 
fridges in the kitchen. Shocking! Now get to hell out of here, there's 
a good chap, and tell someone else about it.* 

Chase looked at him speculatively, scratching delicately in his 

233 



moustache. He said, *I never did get you. If you weren't a director 
of this three-ring circus, I'd say you were what they call a subver- 
sive.' 

*A saboteur,' Edward said. *And now, f off, will you ?' 

'That reminds me,' Chase said, laughing, 'there was this vicar 
walking along a street in his parish, and he sees this chap chasing 
the birds off the seeds in his front garden, and yelling at them . . .' 

'I heard it when I was twelve,' Edward said. Chase said, 'In that 

case, next time you want me to f off, just say Shoo, shoo!' 

For another half hour Edward sat at his desk, looking up logarithms 
— he never used a slide-rule, this was a sport, not work — and con- 
verting sine values to capacity X resistance X inductance values. 
Then he left the building. Chase, on his way to lunch, caught up 
with him on the stairs, and before he could start anything Edward 
said, coldly and curtly, that he would be calling for a progress report 
on the big-screen project within ten days. But that was a line he 
was increasingly incapable of taking: he was no longer even a bit 
like the centurion in the Gospels; he might say. Come! but what 
Chase said was, 'Nark it, Tillotson.' 

At the foot of the stairs an old woman in a threadbare black 
coat, a ridiculous hat and cotton gloves stood peering nervously 
about. To Chase, for he was taller than Edward, his moustache 
looked important and his clothes, having cost much less than Ed- 
ward's, naturally looked as if they had cost much more, she said, 
'Oh, sir, if you please . . .' 

'AH inquiries on the first floor,' Chase said. 

Edward looked at her and she reminded him so much of Celia's 
mother that his eyes went to her hands: no arthritis, but she was 
carrying a letter. He said, 'Can I help ?' 

'It's about Daniel Blagdon, sir.' 

'What about him, Mrs. . . . ?' 

'I'm his mother, sir. There's this certificate . . .' 

Edward took the letter from her and read it. He said, 'I see,' and 
the old woman began to talk volubly, confusedly, saying that 
Danny's father and grandfather before him had had the same leg- 
ulcers. 'Father to son, that's how it goes, never a generation missed. 
Well, they say the sins of the fathers'll be visited on the children, 
and in a manner of speaking . . .' 

'Never mind, ulcers aren't sins, Mrs. Blagdon,' Edward said, 
and, 'Don't you worry, he must have his month in bed if the doctor 
says so. What's the National Insurance worth?' 

234 



'Fifty shillings a week sir, and how they expect anybody to 
manage on that, and considering the price of the stamp, week 
after week, month in month out . . .' 

'Fifty shillings won't go far, certainly. It's that which is worrying 
you?' 

*I wouldn't ask anything, sir, only there was this man come about 
the instalment on Danny's car, and what with the TV payments 
and Danny's father's shingles, well, I . . .' 

'You can take it that the firm will make up Danny's pay at least 
for four weeks. Is that all right ?' 

Walking away from her after standing to be thanked, Chase said, 
'Nine quid a week plus overtime at eighteen, and he buys a car. 
I bet you feel grand, Tillotson. All glorious within, like the king's 
daughter.' 

'You'd lose your bet,' Edward said, and did not offer him a lift. 

At the Kingsway- Southampton Row crossing, chaos was come 
again. Edward sat there in the throb and stench, beholding himself 
doing good works and disliking what he saw. It was intolerable to 
be him before whom the Mrs. Blagdons walked humbly and held 
out a diffident hand. But intolerable, too, to be Daniel Blagdon. 
The policeman gave up trying to obstruct the traffic and he got as 
far as Tottenham Court Road without being actually immobilized 
again. Even at that check he had no time to carry his discontent a 
further stage before the traffic broke up again and he was cutting 
up a blasphemous taxi-driver so as to get across before the lights 
changed. He ate a solitary lunch at Flaubert's. With wine, it cost him 
two pounds. He folded the bill into his wallet, to be sent to his 
tax-accountant. He realized he had eaten too much. He had not 
really wanted any lunch. He went back to the office. Miss Gresham 
followed him into his room and said, 'There's a Mr. Halloband 
waiting to see you.' 

'I can't see him,' Edward said automatically; and, double-taking, 
'Halloband? I only posted a letter to him this morning. He can't 
have had it.' 

'He says he's in London on other business and called on the off- 
chance. He says he's very comfortable in our waiting-room, thank 
you, and has no other appointment until three.' 

'Very well, I'll see him.' 

'Mrs. Tillotson phoned.' 

'Get her for me, first.' 

Edward waited for Celia's voice with a heavily beating heart: 

235 



indigestion, or the anxiety with which she inspired him, as if slie 
had taken over his conscience. He heard the PBX girl say, 'Mr. 
Tillotson for you, Mrs. Tillotson. I'm putting you through.' 

'I've heard from O'Dwyer,' she said, without preamble, 'he's made 
an appointment for us to see Professor de Perry in Paris.' 

'When?' 

Celia told him and he looked at the desk-calendar and said, 'It 
fits. I mean, we could do it on our way to Italy. I assume that you 
do want to see this de Perry . . .' 

'Why do you ask me that ?' Her voice, thinned by the telephone, 
was peevish, 'You know dam' well we want to try everything. 
O'Dwyer says de Perry knows more about sterility than any other 
doctor in the world.' 

*I just wanted to be sure. After the last time . . .' 

'That swine.' 

'Quite. All right, I'll tell Miss Gresham to confirm it.' 

Edward rang off and sat looking at the phone, thinking that he 
knew nothing of what went on in Celia's mind. There were times 
when he thought her glad enough to be childless, and wondered 
whether her search for effective medical help was just doing what 
she conceived of as some kind of duty. But beneath her apparent 
and perhaps real relief might be a corrosive resentment, an accusa- 
tion she was forced to repress because it was not 'reasonable' and 
they were all intellectuals now if only because there was nothing 
else to be. All Edward was sure of was that he knew and could 
know nothing about it, about her. Miss Gresham's voice said, 'Mr. 
Halloband,' and he, Halloband, began talking at once, bustling 
forward, half-dragging Edward to his feet with a hearty handshake, 
explaining in elaborate detail how it was that he followed so close 
upon the heels of his letter ... 'A bad metaphor, that, Mr. Tillotson, 
for I never 'card that letters 'ad 'eels.' 

*I wrote last night,' Edward said, 'but you'll not have had my 
letter yet.' 

The office could not compete with Halloband; he had too many 
dimensions for it, it was all surfaces and he all volumes. That made 
Edward's movements cautious, as if he were afraid of putting hand 
or foot through paper. 'In my letter,' he said, 'I told you I knew 
of no business we could have to discuss. Not that I'm not pleased to 
see you.' 

Halloband had taken an upright chair; his body concealed it 
completely. He put his big, square hands on his striped trouser 

236 



knees and inclined his massive body towards Edward; the black 
cloth of his curious hybrid coat folded into statuesque creases. 

'Supposin',' he said, 'I was to put me cards on the table?' 

'It might be as well, Mr. Halloband.' 

'Very well, sir. I'm not here as me client's legal adviser. I'm 'ere 
as a friend usin' his good offices.' The lawyer sat back, frowned, and 
added, 'That boy of 'ers has filed 'is eleven-plus.* 

'I'm sorry to hear that.' 

'You know what it means. No grammar school. Second'ry 
modern. She has 'er pride, sir. Wants a future for the boy. The fact 
is. Mr. Tillotson, me client needs 'elp.' 

'I've been helping her, as an act of grace, for — well, you know best 
how long,' Edward said, but without conviction, knowing that the 
price of those two visits was now to pay, and of any others in the 
future. 

'I know it, sir, I know it. I've nothing to urge, barrin' this — here's 
your chance to do a bit more.' 

'An odd way to put it, Mr. Halloband.' 

'Worksy Mr. Tillotson, works. 1 don't forget a conversation we 
'ad touchin' Mr. Walter Tillotson's wrong-'eadedness.' 

Edward studied him with open curiosity; he had not aged nor 
changed. His intuition was astoundingly sure. Because Edward 
knew his self guilty, born and raised guilty, he could no more have 
rejected this chance than he could have rejected a fortune; or abso- 
lution with a certificate of authenticity. What he said then had no 
bearing on what he felt: 'The trouble is, the more I do, the more I 
must seem to commit myself.' 

'You have 'er affidavit,' Halloband said. 

'Don't my acts repudiate it? To anyone less perspicacious than 
yourself, Mr. Halloband, it would look as if I had forced Miss Figgis 
to sign that in return for helping her, as if I were fulfilling an obli- 
gation in return for her admission that no such obligation exists.' 

Halloband had bowed to Edward's description of him as per- 
spicacious. But he waved and grimaced away the argument, saying, 
'Come, Mr. Tillotson, you're talking like a damned, pettifogging 
attorney . . .' He chuckled at his Httle joke and, leaning still further 
towards Edward, 'Didn't we agree' ... it sounded like agrye-ee, 
'that we weren't talking on that level ?' 

'What do you suggest I should do ?' 

Halloband looked slowly and deliberately about the office, taking 
in everything, as if estimating what it had cost. Not that he was 

237 



really doing that, Edward was convinced that the lawyer was very 
well informed of his position. That appraisal was only a demon- 
stration of Halloband's line of thought. He said, *An extra five sove- 
reigns a week would make all the difference.' 

Edward did not pretend to hesitate but nodded and took letter 
paper from a drawer and wrote an order to his bank and got up to 
hand it to Mr. Halloband. He read it and gave it back saying, *I 
expected no less.' 

'More, perhaps ?' 

Halloband raised a hand: 'Measure, sir, measure in all things.' 
Edward smiled and rose and said, 'They serve a very tolerable 
glass of Madeira at the wine-bar in Pie Street. May I offer you a 
glass ?' 

'That's kind,' Halloband said. 

* * * 

The two hundred and fifty a year Edward had fined his self 
helped for a while, say for as long as it took him to work the TL.4 
through the traffic and out on to the arterial road. But, like spirits, 
its effect decayed with time and left a hangover. By the time he was 
ten minutes from home his guilt lay upon him again, heavy as a 
rain-drenched overcoat. As Edward went into the hall, CeUa was 
coming downstairs, as if the scene had been planned by a playwright. 
She was wearing a suit and a hat and carrying a small case, and her 
face was white, strained, a paper mask of stylized resentment. She 
said, 'Has Vinson gone?' 

'Yes. He just passed me.' 

'How tiresome. I wanted him to carry something downstairs 
for me.' 

'Can't I do it, whatever it is?' 

'Thank you. I am sorry to bother you with it, but it is too heavy 
for me. I am afraid I shall have to put you to even more trouble. 
I want the car to drive to the station. As I am catching a train, I 
shall have to leave it there. It means that you will have to walk down 
for it.' She offered no explanation of her cold rage, and proposed 
departure: she was assuming that he knew what it was about. He 
did not. Yet it would not be true to say that he 'had no idea'. It was 
a question of wondering what she had found out. 

The situation was so ridiculous that he was as much embarrassed 
as distressed by it. He was in the ludicrous position of having ritually 
to ask questions to all of which he knew the answers, so that all his 
expressions, inflexions and gestures would be as false as an actor's. 

238 



But there it was, he had to show surprise, indignation, pain ; had to 
lie, plead, explain, and all simply for the record, simply to arrive, 
officially as it were, where he already was. A grey pall of boredom, 
a duller and more universal and in some ways less tolerable pain 
than the sharp one of his distress and Celia's bitter anger, settled, 
like some nauseating and quite ineffectual anaesthetic, over his mind. 
Celia had put down her suitcase and was pretending to adjust her 
hat in the old Eagle looking-glass on the wall. Making a great effort 
to rid his voice of weariness, Edward said, 'What's all this about?' 

*You know dam' well what it's about,' Celia said, without turning 
round, 'Is there any point in talking about it?' 

'There certainly is,' he said. The invisible stage manager ought 
to have stopped him there and made him do it again. {Look, you re 
in great agony of mind, see? You're fighting for your love, see? And you 
sound like you were saying there's time to catch the bus if we hurry. 
Put some feeling into it, for God's sake!) But words, he thought, will 
no longer hold feeling; it runs through their worn fabric and leaves 
them flaccid. Yet, since there was no other means of expression, 
since he was not dead, since not being dead consists in forcing 
yourself, moment by moment, to believe that something can be 
done about things, he went on, 'I'd like an explanation.' 

To his astonishment, an astonishment which almost expressed 
itself in hysterical laughter, she said, Tf you want to keep letters a 
secret, you should tear them up before you throw them down the 
lavatory pan, or burn them.' 

'What letters ?' 

'Oh, for God's sake! And don't think I snoop into your business. 
It's you all over — not thinking it might stop up the pipe. I had to 
fish it out. So I read it.' 

For the life of him he could not keep the grin off his face. Celia 
stamped furiously. 'It isn't funny, you swine! Who is this woman 
you're keeping? Not that it matters ' 

Halloband's letter, of course. Edward said, 'Eileen Figgis. You 
know perfectly well who she is. The girl whose father I killed.' 

'Don't dramatize. You didn't kill him, he fell over and broke 
his neck.' 

'I'm not keeping her, as you put it. I contribute to her support. 
Look, Celia, I've never told you because I didn't know what you'd 
say. It was something I had to do. Say there's no sense in it if you 
like, but I've always felt I owed her ' 

'That's rubbish, and I don't believe it.' 

239 



*I know. You don't understand. I'm not one of the righteous, 
Hke you.' 

'What do you mean by that?' 

Edward shrugged. CeUa said, 'I've suspected something like this 
for a long time. Well, I've had enough. I shall see a solicitor and ' 

'So you've been judging me in a kind of mean silence,' Edward, 
suddenly angry in his turn, shouted at her, 'instead of telling me, 
asking me ' 

'Silent,' she interrupted, 'yes, I was silent. Because one can't 
talk to you, Edward. There isn't anyone there. You ... oh, what's 
the use ? Will you please get my trunk down ?' 

'No, I bloody well won't. This is all bloody silly. We're going to 
stop it. Now. We're going . . .' 

He was just making a noise. She shouted at him, then, 'Shut up! 
Shut up! Shut up!' But her noise did not convince him either. Her 
freedom could not be worth so much to her if a trunk full of clothes 
stood between it and her. She turned and ran up the stairs. In a 
moment he heard her small cabin-trunk dragging and bumping over 
his head. She reappeared at the top of the stairs, hauling the thing, 
he would not help her. He was not clear why he was sullenly de- 
termined to stop her going away. He wanted her to go away, so that 
he could be quiet, so that he could be free, answerable to nobody. 
Celia, in the passionate strength of rage, pushed the trunk over the 
edge of the top stair and tipped it. Her face was distorted, a mask of 
suffering fury. The trunk began to slide. It came crashing down, 
gaining enough momentum to up-end itself and turn one complete 
somersault, smashing a banister and gouging a large piece of plaster 
out of the wall. It came to rest in the middle of the hall, intact, 
upside-down. Edward sat on it. 

*0h, for Christ's sake, don't be so childish,' she said, coming 
down after it. 'Get up and let me get out of this bloody house.' He 
stood up. She got hold of the trunk by a handle and began to pull it. 
He put his foot on it. She gave up tugging and stood straight and 
said, 'You lie and cheat and wangle, you . . . oh, I suppose I should' ve 
known, it's in the blood, you're nothing, after all, but a dirty little 
Jew swindler . . .' She was yelling now, white-faced; her face was 
enormous, it filled the whole hall, the hole in the middle opening 
and shutting, opening and shutting. Edward was red and hot inside. 
Of its own volition his right arm swung, his right hand struck her, 
hard, on the side of the head. She staggered sideways, putting her 
hand to her face, silent, all eyes, the eyes glittering, astonished and 

240 



mad. Her mouth opened to speak, the Benvenuta's voice, behind 
them, said, 'Scusiy signora, de butch . . . che vuole la signora per 
domenica?' 

'Beef,' Edward said, waving her to go away, 'Beef. The usual 
joint.' She departed, muttering Bijf, bijf, and a gloss in ItaUan. 
CeUa sat down on the trunk and began to cry. 

*Good Christ,' Edward said, 'all you've got to do is go and see 
the lawyer, this Ivo Halloband. He'll tell you, if you don't believe 
me. Celia, please, please don't go away. Don't do anything. We're 
going away together . . . wait a bit anyway . . .' 

He went on talking. She went on crying with her face in her 
hands and her elbows on her knees. 



She had believed him readily enough in the end; Edward was still 
dwelling on this as he signed the letters Miss Gresham had brought 
him. The feeling in his heart — but it was in the solar plexus and the 
loins, he reflected, that he was aware of it, not the heart — was pity. 
He perceived, and wished that he had not, that she, Celia, was ob- 
liged to believe him ; for, if she did not, then he had a son ; he was 
not sterile ; she was barren. Intolerable conclusion. 

He turned over the last page of the letter folder. 'What's this ?' 
he said, picking up not a letter for signature but a sealed envelope 
addressed to him in Powel's handwriting. Miss Gresham said, 'Mr. 
Powel left it for you before he went to Machynlleth. Mr. Tillotson, 
I wanted to ask you ' 

'Well?' 

'You going away tomorrow, I was wondering if I could have 
the day off. Gordon's got two days' leave. They don't get much, 
being so short-handed. It's a chance for us.' 

Edward looked up at her, at the impeccable cosmetic mask, the 
neat blouse, the pretty gold and enamel brooch which had been 
her grandmother's — 'Victorian, you see, Mr. Tillotson, and very 
smart now.' He said, 'I read in the Telegraph that they're over a 
thousand short of establishment. A policeman's life is not a happy 
one, eh?' 

'Pardon?' 

*A quotation. The pop music of yesteryear. I suppose there's one 

241 



advantage of their being so short-handed. Quicker promotion for 
your Gordon. How's he getting on?' 

'Detective- Sergeant, now, Mr. Tillotson.' 

'I suppose we'll be losing you to him soon?' 

Miss Gresham smiled primly. Edward said, 'Take the day off 
by all means. Tell the Secretary I said so. No, I'll tell him myself.' 

'Mr. Belsey's off with 'flu, Mr. Tillotson.' 

'I'll leave a note for him, then.' 

Edward opened Powel's letter. It contained a hand-written note 
and a cheque drawn in favour of a company he had never heard of for 
twenty thousand pounds. Powel's note said, Came to terms with Das. 
A three-quarters of a million contract being news, I have told publicity 
to release it to the Press. Belsey being away, I could not get a second 
signature on the enclosed. It is for Das^s (mythical?) brother-in-law. 
Sign it and have it posted, will you? Happy holiday. 

Frankly curious, Miss Gresham was staring. Edward looked at 
her and she looked away. He signed the cheque, frowning, and said, 
'Send this to Mr. Das, with our compliments. He knows all about it.' 

'I bet he does!* she said. That was not like her. Edward looked 
at her and said, 'We are investing in the Pay-as-you-look Television 
Company of Bengal, Miss Gresham.' 

'Yes, Mr. Tillotson.' 

If, he reflected, the girl sometimes stepped out of line, it was his 
fault. The case of Chase, at the lab, all over again. They did not 
take him seriously. Why should they? He did not take himself 
seriously, either. Not in this role. He heard Celia saying, 'There's 
nobody there.' He knew what she meant: an isolated self had no 
reality but for the host it lived on. Even your friends couldn't know 
it, any more than they could know you had a tapeworm if you 
didn't tell them. 

'O.K.,' he said, 'that's all. I'm going now. Got to pack.' 
* * * 

'Why on earth,' Celia said, 'do we always have to get to railway 
stations and airports hours ahead of time ?' 

She was wearing a linen suit the colour of a grey pearl, and none 
of her rings, and carried grey kid gloves : the thin distinction of her 
head looked like an insult to their surroundings. One might almost 
have suspected a specific difference between her and the other 
passengers. Edward said, 'The A.A. man said that if we got here 
early they might put us on the earlier plane, the one we asked for 
in the first place. I told you that.' 

242 



*If we could not get on the first plane, we might just as well 
have gone by sea in the first place,' 

*You said you were willing to go by air if it meant an earlier 
start from the other side.' 

'You know I loathe being shut up in one of these horrible tin 
boxes.' 

The airport lounge had a curious smell of hot diesel oil and burnt 
chocolate : it kept Edward just on the point of being sick. The A. A. 
man, tall and fair and with conscientiously laughing eyes and his 
cap at a dashing angle, crossed to their table, walking like a man 
who feels himself the cynosure, whatever that is, of all eyes. He 
bawled, making himself heard above the clamour of aircraft engines 
being run-up beyond the huge plate-glass window commanding the 
runway. 

'Sorry, sir. No joy. Have to be the eleven-fifty.' 

Edward nodded and put half a crown into his hand. The A. A. man 
saluted Celia with the smile of a man who has used the right after- 
shave lotion. He walked, or rather strode boldly, away from them. 
Celia watched him without indulgence; she said, *Look at him 
acting like one of the drivers.' 

'They call them pilots,' Edward said. 

'Do they ? / call them drivers. A pilot is a man who steers a ship 
into and out of harbours.' Coffee had been slopped on the Formica 
table- top. With a matchstick Edward drew a face. Celia said, 'Come, 
come!' He dropped the matchstick and began hating the stout 
man at the next table. He was wearing a canary yellow nylon sports 
shirt with the open collar turned down over a purple jacket of 
excessively hairy pseudo-tweed, was reading the Daily Mirror and 
picking his nose. His wife was fatter than he was; her jeans fitted 
very snugly; the flesh of her blunt feet bulged between the straps 
of her sandals. Grey showed at the roots of her bleached hair. 
She sucked Coca-Cola through a blue straw. A rather listless 
little boy with the grey face of a famine victim was eating a bright 
green ice with an air of suffering. 

The loud-speakers made a clanging noise: a standard English 
voice invited four couples to go to the flight-exit. Tillotson was one 
of the names called. Their travelling companions included an 
intellectual-looking Negro whose face was elaborately decorated with 
purplish ritual scars; his pale and ferrety-looking wife was far gone 
in an enormous pregnancy, the substance of hands and face drained 
into her belly so that they were skeletal. They stood where they were 

243 



told by a two-dimensional young woman cleverly drawn to advertise 
the airline. She took papers from them and gave them other papers 
with the sharp, smiling assurance of a card-sharper. 

They could see the aeroplane on the runway. Celia said, 'There 
goes your car.' Your; not our. A mechanic drove the dark blue TL.4 
up the ramp and into the aircraft. Presently they followed the im- 
placably smiling girl in uniform out on to the concrete ; an icy wind 
snarled round their ankles and snatched at their throats. Over 
the Channel the sun came out: packed in the tiny cabin they could 
just catch a glimpse of its gleam off the sea and, like prisoners 
peering at the sky through the grating of a cell window, they craned 
to catch sight of the waves. Celia was pale. Crossing the French 
coast after a quarter of an hour, the aircraft bumped and soared. 
Edward felt the grinding din of engines in his teeth, like a dentist's 
drill. It was too noisy to talk. They smiled thinly at each other. 
The sun shone on France but as they walked into the airport 
buildings the wind was as keen as ever. 

They were away from the airport in ten minutes. Going inland 
the wind dropped and it was warmer. Edward drove slowly. He 
said, T was quite sorry to leave the roses. They're lovely this year.' 

'The front bed on the lawn's full of bindweed,' CeHa said. 

'Vinson's so busy with the fruit-trees.' 

'He could find ten minutes to do that job, surely ?' 

'It's a big garden for one man.' 

'Nonsense, he's bone lazy.' 

'Well, I'll tell him.' 

*I ticked him off about it yesterday,' Celia said. 

*I wish you wouldn't,' Edward said. 

'Why the devil shouldn't I ?' 

'You dislike him, and it shows. It sounds in your voice. He's 
human, too, Celia. He resents it.' 

'He's an oaf and he's dishonest and he's malicious.' 

As if the bitterness which her criticism, and the memory of her 
abuse, had brought up into his mouth could be sweetened by speed, 
Edward began to drive faster. At least that imposed silence: there 
would be no more words to turn the bad taste into a physical 
obstruction, like a lump of sour fat trying to force its way out be- 
tween his teeth. They lunched at Abbeville in silence. All he said 
was, 'A nice wine'; and Celia, 'It's all right.' She never would quite 
play the game of pretending that what they bought was always 
worth the money. 

244 



Through Beauvais, Pontoise and into Paris Edward kept the car 
at fifty. In the city he was nervous and twice lost his way and 
Celia put him right. When they found the hotel CeUa sat for a 
moment in the car and looked at it and said, 'Oh God, it's one of those 
concrete boxes.' 

'Well, I'm sorry, but you wouldn't stay at the place David 
suggested.' 

'It would have been full of queers.' 

'I'm beginning to wish we hadn't accepted his invitation,' Edward 
said. 'When we get to the villa that's apt to be full of queers too.' 

She was right about the hotel: there were two beds, and an air- 
conditioner, and a wireless set and two kinds of telephone and 
iced-water, but no space. The air smelt of cheap soap. In the bath- 
room there was a paper seal fixed over the lavatory seat to prove that 
it was clean. Celia called Edward to inspect this phenomenon. 
'Untouched by human arse,' she said, and, 'They ought to put it 
in the adverts. Grand Hotel Foster Dulles — son confort, sa cavCy sa 
cuisine, ses WC.^ 

They got a bit drunk at dinner, but it was not a good idea because, 
sober, Celia would not have cried at the morrow's prospect, when 
they were back in their room. He held her in his arms, full of 
bitterness, empty of consolation, his impatience barely controlled, 
until she shrank from him and they lay parted. 

'If this Frenchman's like that bloody swine in Harley Street ... * 
she said; and Edward, 'He won't be. Reinach's notorious. W^e should 
never have gone to him. He fancies himself a kind of gynaecological 
Mark Antony ... a plain, blunt man.' 

'He was obscene.' 

'Yes. I expect the French have better medical manners.' 

Their appointment was for ten and they were not kept waiting. 
De Perry was an unsmiling man of fifty with a beautiful, elongated 
head and an intensely interested, sharply focused manner. Edward 
saw with relief that Celia liked him. Still unsmiling he turned to 
Edward and began to ask questions in strongly accented but correct 
English. 

'And you have been married, let us see, six years . . .* 

'Nearer seven.' 

There was none of Reinach's use of vernacular words which 
nobody winced at in conversation and were so offensive in his famous 
consulting- room, at least to Celia. Professor de Perry kept his 
language clinical, his manner cool. There came a pause while he 

245 



glanced again at O'Dwyer's report. Without looking up, almost 
absently, he said, *The question is perhaps superfluous, but is it 
very important to you to have a child ?' 

'We should hardly have come . . .' Celia began, and Edward 
interrupted, saying, 'Yes, it's important.' 

De Perry touched a bell and presently a nurse came into the room, 
and he said to Celia, 'This is Madame Labiche. If you will go with 
her she will tell you what to do.' Then, when he and Edward were 
alone, 'There is no point in further examination or testing in your 
case, monsieur. Dr. O'Dwyer has done everything . . .' And, abruptly, 
'Forgive me, monsieur, but have you any reason to know, despite 
these reports, that you could father a child.? It is a question one 
must ask.' 

'None,' Edward said and, idiotically, flushed. De Perry nodded 
and rose and said, 'I shall be an hour with madame your wife. 
Will you wait here? No, the waiting-room is better, there you can 
smoke.' 

It was over an hour before they were together again, in his con- 
sulting-room. De Perry came straight to the point. He found, he 
explained, no physical impediment. 'There is . . .' he frowned, his 
English failing, '...«« leger decallage.' 

'What?' Celia said. 

*A slight . . .' Edward looked at him for confirmation, *. . . dis- 
placement.' 

'But not enough to matter,' he insisted. 

'And your advice ?' Celia said. 

'Patience, madame, patience. Just . . . live your life.' After a 
silence he went on, 'You have considered adoption?' And, seeing 
her expression, 'Not as a substitute, but as a therapy. I am a physi- 
cian, not a psychologist, but there are factors, the problem is a 
psycho-somatic one perhaps ... in short one must admit that 
adoption sometimes promotes conception . . .' 

They were silent. Celia had hoped for nothing, Edward, perhaps, 
for a miracle, not for his own sake, for hers; and yet for his too, if 
it would change the state of her spirit. De Perry said, 'Voila! It is 
not very satisfactory for you. I am sorry that I cannot help you.' 
As he showed them out of the consulting-room he touched Edward's 
arm and said, quick and low, in French, 'I am not a psychologist. 
But there is a question . . . Do you, not madame your wife, but you, 
really want this child ?' 

Edward looked at him defensively and said, 'Yes, why not?' 

246 



And, as de Perry still stared at him and Edward became aware of 
the magnificent simplicity of his eyes, he mumbled, *I . . . I don't 
know.' 

*I think you do know, monsieur.' 

Outside, CeUa said, 'What did he want ?' 

'Nothing. Another of those tiresomely personal questions.' 

The sense of being guilty was strong in him as they drove out of 
Paris that afternoon. It had turned suddenly very hot and the 
fumes of diesel fuel made the air of the hanlieu mephitic. There 
seemed to be small, sharp grit between his hands and the rim of 
the wheel. He had nothing to say but there slowly accumulated in 
him a charge of something like panic, a shrill intimation that if he 
did not speak something terrible would happen. In the end he said, 
'Well, it's no good taking it tragically.' Celia said, 'No.' 

'I know what you're feeling.' 

'Oh, do you?' she said. 

'Yes, I do. And . . .' 

'It doesn't make any difference, does it?' 

'There are so many other things,' he began, and she interrupted 
him with, 'Knitting, you mean? Or local politics, or stamp-collect- 
ing ?' And when he had no answer to that, savagely, 'What's your 
other thing, chum ?' Chum in the way, with the intention, of Doris 
using the word mate. 

* * * 

It became very hot. Coming into the suburbs of Pouilly-les- 
hetres, the offside rear tyre burst while the car was travelling at 
something like eighty miles an hour. He had just seen the red- 
ringed 50 kilometre limit sign ahead and was beginning to brake, 
when this happened. The back of the car slewed round, but he did 
not lose control of it. As soon as he had managed to stop he looked 
at Celia: she was white and had closed her eyes. He apologized and 
she opened her eyes and gave him a queer smile and said, 'Trying 
to kill us both ?' 

There was a garage within fifty yards; they walked to it and 
arranged to have the wheel changed and the puncture repaired. 
They walked on towards the centre of the town between dignified 
seventeenth-century fa9ades in want of paint, and an avenue of 
enormous plane trees and past a pink stucco baroque church which 
looked as if it had been moved from somewhere much farther 
south and which glowed hot in the sunshine. In front of it a tall 
priest stood stooping, holding a small boy by the ear. At the junction 

247 



of a short, wide side-street both of them caught sight of the bignonia 
vine at the same moment, and stopped dead. The trunk, rising from 
the pavement at their feet, was as big round as an oak and had 
broken and Ufted the cobbles as if it had not done its work slowly 
but had erupted from the ground. Its branches extended over the 
faces of the eight houses which formed one side of that small street, 
and hung them with a blazing, fiery curtain of huge trumpet flowers 
something between orange and crimson. Everything Edward saw 
in that town remained for ever motionless in his memory: the church 
still glowed pinkly under the sun; the priest and the boy stood 
unchanged ; no seasonal progress faded the flowers of the bignonia. 

They turned down the side-street and walked slowly, away from 
the snarl and grind of heavy trucks on the main road. As that noise 
receded they became aware of music. At the end of the street, which 
ended against a gate into a meadow, the music was clear and sweetly 
audible; it was coming from the last house in the street whose 
white stucco was hugged by the still considerable branches of the 
bignonia where they turned the angle of the house. Beyond the 
meadow their view was cut off by a long row of densely planted 
poplars. They climbed the gate and walked round behind the 
house ; there was a garden of beans on poles and narrow raised beds 
of lettuce and cauliflowers. Beyond the garden was a raised veranda 
opening out of a room whose wide french doors were hooked back. 
Against the light, they could not see into the room, but they could 
hear that it was in there that the piano was being played. The other 
instrument, a viola, they could see, for the short, white-haired 
musician, with a neat brindled beard and wearing a black corduroy 
jacket, stood on the veranda, his music stand before him. They 
halted and Celia made to draw back out of sight but Edward caught 
her wrist and they stood listening. 

Piano and viola came to the end of a movement but not of the 
whole piece, for the old gentleman, after a short rest, put the viola 
back under his chin. Edward still held Celia by the wrist, and he 
called out, * Vous permetteZy monsieur?' and the musican smiled and 
nodded. But as he raised his bow, a big green and red bird, a yaffle, 
lit in the meadow not ten yards from where they stood, and burst 
into its cry of raucous laughter. The viola-player lowered his bow, 
smiling. Edward raised his hand in an abrupt movement and the 
woodpecker took off and flew, yelling once again, towards the 
poplars. The old man tapped the music stand sharply with his bow, 
and he, and the invisible pianist, began to play again, the movement 

248 



seeming to be an eighteenth-century air which was famiUar by its 
likeness to a dozen Ceha and Edward had heard together. Once 
Edward glanced at Celia and she was smiling. When the movement 
ended the old gentleman put down his viola and called into the room 
and came to the edge of the veranda and said, *Do you know this 
piece, madame ?' Celia looked at Edward and he answered that they 
did not know it. He said, 'It is of the eighteenth century but perhaps 
of your own arrangement?' A woman with an unsmiling, tranquil 
face, over sixty, dressed in black, came out on to the veranda. The 
viola-player said, *I present to you my wife and pianist.' She bowed 
her head and said, 'Mais montez, madame; montez, monsieur.' 
They went up the steps on to the veranda while the old man explained 
that the music was Darius Milhaud's — a sonata on anonymous 
eighteenth-century themes. He showed Edward the score while his 
wife was making Celia sit down in a basket chair. After Edward 
had explained their presence, and told Celia what it was they had 
been playing, she, whose eyes were shining as if with unshed tears, 
asked if it would be all right to ask them to play again. Edward did 
so; they smiled and nodded, and the wife asked them if they would 
first 'take something'. 'Only a little more music,' Edward said, and 
smiling, the old couple went back to their instruments. The old man 
asked if they liked Brahms, and Edward said that they did, and the 
musicians played a sonata in F major. Afterwards Edward and 
Celia sat with them in the open room which smelt of fading roses 
and caporal tobacco, and the old lady gave them coffee and small 
glasses of sweet wine. When Edward and Celia left they had been 
with them for two hours; all they knew about them was that their 
two sons had died in a German prison camp and that they played 
music together every day. 

Celia behaved rather strangely; she said that she did not want to 
leave Pouilly-les-hetres. They ate an omelette and drank half a 
bottle of wine in a small restaurant which had only four tables. 
Walking idly, after that meal, they came to a small square in which 
four massive seventeenth-century houses faced each other across 
a paved court in which stood an immense plane tree, its huge 
branches growing at right-angles to the trunk. Under it there was 
a small bronze and granite fountain with an inscription saying that 
it had been given to the town by Jean-Richard Caillavet in 1803. 
They sat on a seat in the dense, damp shade, looking up into that 
vast canopy. 'You'll miss the racing if we don't press on,' Celia said. 
Edward replied that he did not mind, which had become true. 

249 



It was hot in Bourges. David's Ferrari, done in British racing- 
green, was outside the old coaching porch of the Hotel des Deux 
Eveques. Hugget, David's mechanic, chauffeur and handyman, 
was on his knees beside the car, fiddling with one of the wheels. 
He was a man of fifty with the face of a hanging judge and malevolent 
manners. The car, as usual, had collected a small crowd of youths in 
their teens. They stood silent in adoration, or exchanged grave 
comment in low voices. Hugget looked up as Edward parked 
behind the Ferrari and shouted angrily, *Not so bloody close.' 
Edward backed a yard. They went into the hotel, Celia saying, 
T believe David has that car as a lure. All those horrible, spotty 
boys . . .' 

^They're all right,' Edward said, and she, 'Et tu, Brute!* 

*You know better than that,' Edward said, glancing at her quickly: 
she was smiling ; and, willing to commit treachery to keep her in that 
happier temper, he looked over to where David was coming down 
the broad stairs and said, 'Besides, look what it does to a chap's 
face.' 

It was true that of late David's face only tightened into the 
firm and beautiful structure of bone and clear skin, which Edward 
had once admired and fallen short of loving, in moments of tension. 
It had relaxed; fleshy without being gross, the flesh had a loose 
texture which was old-womanly. He waved to them from the stairs. 
Celia said, *You're sometimes very cruel. At least that makes- it 
easier for me to forgive him.' 

They went across the wide, low hall to meet David. At a desk 
raised as high as a pulpit in one corner a white-haired woman sat 
posting up a ledger. Edward called to David as they drew near, saying 
'terribly sorry to have missed it all . . .' Before he could go on with 
their excuses, CeHa said, 'David, what is it, what's the matter? 
Something's wrong.' 

'Come into the cafe,' he said. He led the way to it, a big room 
with large and well-proportioned windows opening on to the street, 
and dim, tall mirrors in carved walnut frames panelling the walls. 
'Is there something wrong?' Edward said. 

'Von Daub was killed at the Issoudun road corner.* 

The waiter brought their drinks. David talked in a high, over- 
emphatic, excited voice, describing the accident in too much 
detail. Once be broke the train of his narrative to say, 'You know 
who he was, of course ?' 

'Von Daub ?' Edward said, and, 'I've seen his name in the papers.' 

250 



1 



'He was the vice-gauleiter of Rotterdam at twenty-three.* 

'An able youth,' CeUa said, her eyes wandering. 

*0h, terribly able. He had a wonderful organization for getting 
rich Jews out of Holland by fishing-smacks.' 

'German resistance, a partisan?' Edward asked. 

'Well, not exactly^' David said, in his waspish tone. 'He took 
their money and then had them thrown overboard at sea.' 

He went on about the race, how he had come into the Issoudun 
corner the first time abreast of the German's Mercedes, and given 
way; and again on the second lap, but this time not giving way, 
but forcing a three- or four-inch lead and, as he pulled out of the 
corner, swinging the tail of the Ferrari and just touching the Ger- 
man's front wheels. He had not stopped, had not seen exactly what 
happened. 'They say he hit the verge and the car went right over, 
looping sideways and falling on top of him. By the time they got to 
him it was blazing like a bonfire. We think he was burnt alive. I 
had to go back. It was the proper thing to do, you see. I saw what 
was left of him, a sort of charred thing covered with fire-extinguisher 
foam. By the time I got back here I was dam' nearly hysterical. 
Silly, of course. It was Madame Grostete — you've seen her at the 
desk in the hall — who steadied me. I came in and she looked up, 
she sits up there all day long, looking like a judge with that huge 
wig of white hair. I had to talk so I talked to her, told her what had 
happened and all she said was, 'Tiens, tiens!' Just like that. 'Tiens, 
tiens! . . .' 

He fell silent and they said nothing and then he said, 'The thing 
is, I think I probably tried to kill him.' 

Edward had nothing to say to that but presently Celia said, 'Well, 
if you did it won't bother anyone but yourself. But you didn't, so 
don't kid yourself.' David flushed at that, and opened his mouth 
and shut it again. Celia got up and said, 'I'm going to bed. Good 
night.' When she had gone Edward said, 'Who won, anyway ?' 

'I did, Edward. The car will be in dock tomorrow. I'll have to 
beg a ride with you. Will Celia be cross?' 

'No, of course not.' 

'Hugget can bring the car on when he's finished it. I've given him 
our route, he can catch us at Tiefencastel.' 

'Fine,' Edward said, 'I'm glad.' He w^as far from glad and rising 
added, 'Let's turn in. You must be tired.' 

From his room Edward went through the bathroom to Celia's. 
She was reading and he said, 'Not sleeping?' with a sinking heart. 

251 



'Can't seem to feel sleepy,' she said, with bogus brightness and 
without raising her eyes from her book. 

*Take a Soneril.' 

*You know I don't want to get that habit.' 

He stooped to kiss her and went back to his own room. He lay 
stiffly in bed in the darkness waiting for Celia to release him from 
her insomnia, to allow him to sleep ; first patiently, then resentfully, 
then with something terrifyingly like hatred. It was an hour before, 
putting out her light, she did so. 

Tiefencastel : afterwards, Edward did not remember anything 
about the place; only a picture of the Ferrari standing outside the 
Franzosicher Hof as they drove up, a picture which became a visual 
symbol of relief. And of Hugget's sullen face lighting up when 
David said he was going straight on, at once, to the villa ; and while 
Hugget transferred his luggage David said to them, *I want to be 
sure all is in order. Take your time. I'll expect you when I see you.' 

The sky was overcast and it was cold as they drove out of Tie- 
fencastel. Climbing, they ran into low cloud. Very improbably, it 
began to snow and Celia said, Tt can't be snowing,' and there was 
a note of cheerful excitement in her voice which raised Edward's 
spirits. 'It's starting to be a blizzard,' he said. There was a grey 
stipple of melting snow on the road and twice the car skidded as he 
drove it round hairpin bends. 'Time we reach the pass,' he said, 
'we'll need spades to dig us out.' She laughed and said, 'The moun- 
tains are vanishing.' He asked where she wanted to stay. 

'I thought Sylvaplaner, but it seems to be getting dark already.* 

'It may be better across the pass.' 

'I shouldn't think so. It's well over seven thousand feet, and 
Sylvaplaner stands at over five thousand.' 

Five minutes later Edward could not see far through the swirling 
snow. They crossed a stream and came to a village. A man and a 
woman were shifting chairs from a cafe terrace into the general 
shop behind it, and when Edward stopped the man came over to 
the car. Edward asked him how far they were from the Julier pass 
and the man told him. Celia said, 'Let's have a drink here and wait 
till it passes over.' They went into the shop. There were tables and 
chairs under a panoply of smoked sausage ; the shop smelt of cheese. 
They were served with coffee and brandy; the shopkeepers talked 
in thick, Germanic French about the weather. Edward told Celia, 
'They say this will last a couple of hours.' 

252 



*Couldn*t we stay the night here ?' 

Yes, they had a room and they could make some kind of evening 
meal. 

'Then let's stay,' Celia said. 

The room was like a barn, or a village hall; both floor and walls 
were made of pine plank. There was a vast bed with posts of elabo- 
rately carved purplish wood. The open fireplace was made of stone 
slabs. While Edward was fetching the cases from the car, the woman 
lit a fire and the man set up a table beside it. The handles of the 
dinner knives were of horn. Edward put the car in a stable where 
there were already two goats and came back to the room and looked 
round and said, 'What they call gemutlich.' Celia turned on him 
angrily, */'m sorry. I suppose we should have gone on to an inter- 
national caravanserai with air-conditioning and television. I happen 
to like it here.' 

'So do I. I wasn't complaining; just remarking.' 

'It sounded like a sneer.' 

'Just a very small joke,' Edward said. 

The meal was a vast dish of spaghetti surmounted by six fried 
eggs and six big rashers of bacon. They ate it all and drank a litre 
of red wine and Edward said, 'This is all right.' 

'A night to remember,' Celia said. 'I can hear us remembering 
it . . . that night when it snowed on the way up to the Julier in 
August.' She went to the window and added, 'Actually, it's stopped.' 

He lit two cigarettes and gave her one and emptied the wine 
bottle into their glasses. She fetched a pillow from the bed and put 
it on the floor at his feet and kissed him and sat down with her back 
against his legs, and thrust a fresh billet of wood into the fire. There 
was silence between them. Celia bent her head back so that it lay 
on his knees and he could see her face upside-down, with her hair 
loose on his thighs and bright in the firelight. He said, 'You look 
sweet like that.' 

'You don't. I can see up your nose. What did de Perry say when 
he called you back, Edward?' 

This time he told her and she asked, 'What did you say ?' 

'I said yes, of course.' 

'Naturally. Edward, what's the matter?' 

'Nothing.' 

'Yes, there's something.' 

'Only that . . . de Perry didn't believe me.' 

Celia sat up and twisted round to look at him and said, 'Oh, I see.' 

253 



'This light's bleak,' Edward said, 'it would be nicer with just the 
fire.' He made to rise, but she checked him with a hand on his knee 
and said, 'No. Did he ask you any other private questions?' 

'He asked me if I had reason to think I could be a father.' 

'Had you any bastards, in short. How quaint.' 

'Extremely quaint.' 

She stared into the fire. Without looking at him she said, 'And 
you haven't, have you? We've quite agreed about that, haven't we?' 

Suddenly she stood up so that she was looking down at him and 
if her face was not drawn to the bone by what was in her mind or 
lay upon her heart, then doubtless it was the combination of fire- 
glow and unshaded electric light which gave her a mask of pain. 
Edward got to his feet hastily, as if she had uttered a cry of distress. 
But when she said, 'Why aren't we together any more?' he just 
stood there, not looking at her face and having nothing to say. 

Later, when they lay stiffly side by side in that broad bed which, 
built for a bulky Swiss Bauer and his Bauerin, gave them space 
enough to be apart, it came into his mind to say that his Uncle 
Walter, '. . . the one who's in the bin,' would have said their trouble 
was they were unjustified. Celia said, 'Some time, when you aren't 
too busy, you must tell me some more about your interesting 
family connections.' Edward was angry: the wisecrack was not 
even original. 



David Mendoza's villa stood on the edge of a cliff which plunged 
twelve hundred feet sheer to the sea. It was called the Villa Nera, 
although it was white. The name may have been given to it by the 
villagers of Lauria — not the Lucanian Lauria, the lesser, Neapolitan 
one to which the Villa Nera stood in the relation of a manor. The 
name perhaps had reference to the Fascist official who had built 
the house: he was said to have been a man of cruel and savage 
temper, risen from the direst poverty to be a scourge of the very 
poor. At all events, on the evidence of his building, he was a man of 
taste. His house he modelled on the Villa Vicenza; it was smaller 
than the famous copy at Mereworth in Kent; an ivory white jewel 
among dark trees. 

There must have been a house there before the villa was built, 

254 



for the garden, of paved walks beneath holmoaks, dark cypresses, 
gnj^rled almond-trees and a few old rose-laurels, was much older 
than the house. In the plain courtyard which was surrounded by 
pleached limes and great copper urns full of pelargoniums, and 
which, in one corner, had the oldest and largest orange-tree in all 
Italy, there had been a fountain by Cellini. This had been looted 
by the Fascist dignitary who built the house, from the garden of one 
Principe lulio Massafra who, recalcitrant to the dictator's govern- 
ment, had had to take refuge in France. David, when he bought the 
villa and heard the story, had caused the fountain to h/d restored 
to the prince, with a polite note saying that he did not feel himself 
entitled to keep stolen property. A year later a copy of the fountain 
had been delivered to the Villa Nera with Massafra's compliments. 
It played sweetly in the courtyard on the evening Celia and Edward 
arrived: there was a wind off the sea that day and the dark foliage 
and green fruit of the old orange-tree, moistened by the spray 
carried from the water-vomiting mouth of Cellini's sea-monster, 
gleamed in the declining sun. 

David met them in the central hall of his house, looking small 
and soft and grey in the dead centre of one of the great marble 
flagstones of the floor, saying 'I'm afraid you'll get an awful meal 
tonight. We're having a little difficulty . . .' He was interrupted by 
a very fat, greasy-faced man who came waddling in engineer's 
overalls unbuttoned to below the waist over grey-looking underwear, 
through a doorless arched doorway, and speaking with an atrocious 
Glasgow accent said that 'yon fella' was here again, *the old ane', 
and what was he to do about it. David said, *Send him away, of 
course.' And, 'Really, what a question! As if you didn't know.' 
Impatient and nervous, his foot tapped the floor. The man retreated, 
grumbling, and David explained, 'That's Macalister. He's a sort 
of major-domo.' 

'Rather unconventionally dressed for the part,' Celia said. 

'Well, he used to be a purser. I don't think he served in the 
smartest ships, though. It's diflicult to get him to dress the part, 
here. Come and have drinks.' 

The house was a centre block and two wings connected by 
colonnaded ways roofed, but open between the columns. They went 
along one of these to a white and gold room furnished with English 
Regency pieces. Celia and Edward sat side by side on a sofa covered 
with striped white and gold satin. David gave them whisky. Twelve 
hundred feet below them a red-sailed fishing-boat tacked towards 

255 



the cliff-face on a royal blue sea. Celia drew attention to it and said, 
'Where's it making for ?' 

'There's no harbour. Only a small beach. To reach it you walk 
half a mile to where the cliff isn't so steep, and down a rather 
terrifying zigzag path.' 

'It's a beautiful place, David,' Edward said, wondering who 
'yon fella' was, and why Macalister had been told so peevishly to 
send him away. Celia asked David what sort of household he had. 

'You're the only guests at the moment. Then there's Macalister 
and two women, not locals, they're from Naples. Oh, and a sort of 
personal manservant I have, Enrico his name is. He's a local man, 
from Lauria. His father used to be the mayor or whatever they call it. 
Rather an old horror, incidentally a Communist, though one doesn't 
hold that against him. Anyone who's mildly liberal is a Communist 
in these parts.' 

'What's Lauria like ?' Celia said. 

'Miserably poor. One does what one can. But I find I've nothing 
for them, really, excepting money I mean. Would you like to go to 
your rooms?' 

The stairs were not of marble, but what looked like highly 
polished grey granite. Celia remarked on its beauty, and David said, 
'It's terribly dangerous actually. Enrico fell down the whole flight 
the day I arrived. He was running to meet me, eagerly, you know, 
he's quite young, and he slipped. Fortunately, being light — he's 
very slender — he wasn't much hurt.' 

Their rooms opened off a gallery and adjoined. They commanded 
the sea. David showed them their bathroom, apologizing for it. 
'My predecessor had it done by an American firm. It's rather 
film-starrish.' It was floored and walled with marble. The bath, 
about the size of a billiard-table, was sunk. Its sides were carved 
in low relief with a frieze of sporting dolphins. Celia said it reminded 
her of the Casca chapel in St. Peter's. 

'At least the water's always hot,' David said. 'There's an electric 
thing in there,' he pointed to an apparently blank wall, 'that heats it.* 

'Then I shall have a bath,' Ceha said. 

They left her and David took Edward to his own room. It was at 
the extreme end of the gallery and went right throught the house, 
with windows on to both the sea and the garden. The door was 
open. David had one of those wardrobes with a long glass on the 
inside of the door. It had been hooked back and a young man, 
hardly more than a boy, stood in front of it, making small adjustments 

256 



to the knot of a dark green tie. His shirt was of silk. An open card- 
board box such as haberdashers use and containing more silk shirts, 
lay on a litter of tissue-paper on the bed. The boy half turned as 
they appeared, taking his eyes off his own image very reluctantly. 
Frowning, David said something sharply, in Italian. The youth 
looked sulky; his eyes returned to the looking-glass. And not without 
reason : the apricot cheek, the dark and curling locks, the full, brown 
throat were all worth looking at: here was Hyacinth. David said, 
'This is Enrico,' and again spoke to his servant in Italian, 'That will 
do^ Enrico. Put those shirts away.' And, to Edward, 'Come and sit 
by the window and watch the sunset.* 

Tiny and exquisite below them a striped-sailed boat moved 
slowly across the sea-borne red disk of the sun. 

'How old is your — man?' Edward said. 

'Enrico? Seventeen, or so he says.' 

'He looks younger.' 

David shrugged. They watched the sea turn purple. Edward 
left him and went to his room to bath and change. Celia was lying 
on her bed, doing the crossword puzzle in an old Times. There was 
a small pile of that newspaper on the boule table beside her bed. 
'Macalister found them for me,' she said, and, 'Why on earth does 
David have such a man about the place? He's an obvious crook.' 

'I shall go down and look at the garden,' Edward said. 

*I shall stay here till dinner-time. Macalister says it's usually 
at eight- thirty.' 

The garden was cool and dusky. Moss, encouraged by the spray 
from the fountain, grew thick over the roots and bole of the great 
orange-tree. Under the holmoaks it was almost dark. The few 
flowers still surviving on the oleanders shone whitely against the 
black of the emphatic cypresses. Out of the shadows moved a shadow, 
startling him. No blackbirds called sweetly in the gloaming of that 
garden, but suddenly the silence was broken from behind Edward 
by the kowarky kowark of frogs in the basin of the fountain. It 
sounded like derisory laughter. He stood quite still and watched 
the moving shadow, coming towards him, a gliding blackness against 
the manifold dark greys, dark greens and dark blues of the evening 
garden. The frog duo gave way to their chorus, kowarky kowarky 
kowark'y the noise the creatures made was astonishing. The column 
of black stood still and Edward saw a face shining whitely as the 
rose-laurel flowers drained of their colour by twilight. From some- 
where in the garden came the sickly sweet scent of gardenia. The 

257 



man, the priest before him, took a step nearer, his head swaying a 
little, thrust forward, emerging tortoise-like from the carapace of 
the cassock. He was very tall, over six feet, and lean. Wanting to see 
his face, Edward took out his lighter and pretended to light a ciga- 
rette which was already burning between his lips. The face was 
livid, heavy for so lean a body, and it had not been shaved for several 
days. A sore, half scarred over, disfigured one corner of the mouth. The 
scent of gardenia yielded to another, rank and goaty, emanating from 
this priest, the foetor ecclesiasticum so offensive to unbelievers, perhaps ; 
or could it be the odour of sanctity? The priest said, *Signor . . .' 

*No parlo Italiano,' Edward said, hastily. There was a silence. 
They looked at each other. Grotesquely deforming the language 
the priest said, 'Signor Mendoza is in de haoose?' 

T think so; do you want to see him?' 

*Ts mayordomo say eez nut.' 

Was this, then, 'yon fella' ? The 'old ane' ? Somehow, Edward 
thought not. The priest began to talk fast, half in Italian, half in 
his atrocious jargon of English. His mutilated speech and the 
vulgarity of his bearing, face and manners were incongruous in that 
tree-scented twilight. In ev^ry pause, the kowark, kowark of the 
frogs mocked him. Edward gathered some sense : he was the parocco 
of Lauria ; one of his parishioners had business of the first importance 
with Mr. Mendoza. A matter of public morality and therefore his, 
the priest's, business. But the man, a most respectable man, a house- 
owner, a merchant, a man of education even, though, God forgive 
him, a backslider, had been turned from the villa door. It was not 
right; no, it was not right. The souls of Lauria were in his, in the 
parocco' s keeping: such were his meaning and manner, if not his 
words, the drift of his tirade. He fell silent; not so the frogs. Had he, 
Edward asked, been on his way up to the house ? 

T ouas ouaitingg.' 

Lurking, Edward thought, would have described it better. The 
frogs, in their turn, fell silent: something had disturbed them. 
David's voice, uncertain, away off in the shadows, said, 'Edward ? 
Are you out here?' 

'Here!' he called, and, 'You have a visitor.' A single frog started 
a tentative solo, 'wark, kowark. The chorus took it up. Grey and 
white, David materialized. The priest said, 'Ah, sigrior, signor.' 
David halted and said, 'You again!' and 'Damn the brute's eyes!' 
Followed what began as a whining plea from the priest and a series of 
sharp retorts from David. At one point David took out his wallet 

258 



and offered money. The priest took it. For the next minute or two 
his tone was ingratiating, wheedling, then David said something 
which raised the tone again; presently they were engaged in an 
altercation, their voices getting higher and their speech faster. The 
frogs, encouraged by this other uproar, raised their hoarse voices 
until their rhythmic chanting throbbed in the mind and became a 
baying of the sliver of silver moon which appeared, a small rift in 
the sky's fabric to reveal the heavenly light, between the great dark 
heads of two holmoaks. With startlingly sudden loss of self-control, 
the priest took a pace towards David and screamed at him, shaking 
a huge peasant fist under his nose. David, in a white voice, said, 
'Do something. If this filthy old swine lays a finger on me, I shall 
kill him.' And, before Edward could step between them, with a 
sudden and horrible lapse into hysteria, his friend also began shout- 
ing, 'You stink, you old horror, you stinkV 

The parocco, whether by the word or the manner, seemed much 
disconcerted. He stepped back, muttered something more, looked 
quickly at Edward. Next moment he was a receding clatter of nailed 
boots on the stone path and once, faintly, an imprecation. The frogs 
said kowark, kowark, kowark. From the house came the dull, slow 
booming of an enormous gong. 

'Dinner,' David said and, 'God knows what it will be like.' 

As they walked towards the house he added, 'I'm sorry for that 
— comic turn.' 

'What was it all about ?' 

'Oh . . .' vaguely, 'a little trouble with the villagers.' 

That trouble had affected the catering. As soon as the soup 
tureen had gone round, David angrily rang the handbell beside him. 
The maid returned and he asked her to send in Macalister. This 
time the major-domo wore a white jacket over black trousers which 
drooped in elephantine folds. David said, 'What's this?' 

'Broath,' Macalister said, scowling. 

'It's cold, greasy, and altogether horrible.' 

'Scots broath. Ma mither aince towd me . . .' 

'Bother your mother. This isn't Scotland, it's Italy.' 

'Then wud ye no be weel a'vised tae get 'n Eytalian cook.'*' He 
scowled and left them. David said, 'I did have an Italian woman. 
Nothing wonderful, but she could cook pasta and veal.' 

'What happened to her ?' Celia said. 

'That bloody-minded priest made her leave. I believe he refused 
her absolution or threatened excommunication, or some such thing. 

259 



They're all insanely superstitious round here.' Celia looked a 
question. Edward said, 'The parocco seems to be carrying on a 
feud with David. He came upon me in the garden. A sort of shabby 
Savonarola. Smells like a blocked drain.' And, turning to David, 
*What, actually, is it all about?' 

The maid serving the second course saved him from answering; 
he poked at the dish, saying, 'Good God, what on earth . . . ?' 

Tt's all right,' Edward said, 'macaroni cheese. Very nice.' Ii was 
not, but there is nothing more boring than a fuss about food. Celia, 
eating stoically, said, 'You were explaining the row with the village. 
Do you mean this parson has cut off your supplies of raw material 
and labour?' 

'He's done his best to.' David rose to open a second bottle of 
Soave BoUa. Edward said, 'This is a charming wine.' Celia nodded 
and David said, eagerly, 'Yes, isn't it ? The more you drink, the less 
awful the food will seem, so drink up!' They laughed. Reseating 
himself and prodding with absent-minded distaste at his macaroni 
cheese, David said, 'I am anathema.' 

Celia said, 'Never mind that. I want to hear about the Laurians. 
I suppose you've been corrupting their innocence, David. Come on, 
now?' She spoke in apparent jest, but her eyes were coldly question- 
ing. David blustered, obviously blustered, 'My household shopping 
in the village market, with a decently free hand, has pushed prices 
up. It's such a tiny community, you see. Don Clementi, the parson 
as you call him, and a man ... I already mentioned him, the ex- 
mayor, Ugo Sesti, are in it.' 

'What's their objection? Surely, more money circulating in the 
village . . .' 

*Ah, you don't understand these people. The Church and the 
Communists both want to keep the people as poor as possible 
short of death from starvation. Enough to eat and a sound roof 
makes men into atheists and bourgeois, you should know that.' 

It was thin; very thin. Edward did not say so. Celia did, though, 
with a pretence at laughter, 'Come off it, David! I bet it's got some- 
thing to do with Enrico. What's his other name ?' 

'Sesti,' David said, sulkily. 

'Well, anyway, you must fight them,' Edward said, without 
conviction. 

'Yes,' he said, 'of course. But ' leaning back and putting on 

a facetiously comic face, 'and I quote, "i7 pericolo maggtor d'oggi 
sta nella stanchezza dei buonV\ Pius XII.' 

260 



'And you're one of the good, are you?' Celia said. Her smile 
was not kind. Edward said, 'What's it mean, anyway?' Celia said, 
'The greatest danger of the times is the weariness of good men.' 

'Well, that's all right. David is good, in that context.' 

He bowed, laughing uneasily. Edward meant it; he knew, had 
always known, that David was good, one of the 'good-est' people 
he had ever known. Celia, intent on the hard facts, said, 'Sesti. 
Of course, you said Enrico was the mayor's son. Or the ex- 
mayor.* 

'It's contemptible!' David burst out. 'Because one of their number 
gets a chance to live like a human being instead of a pig, to have 
decent clothes and enough to eat . . .' 

'Good old macaroni cheese!' Edward said, anxious to put a stop 
to this incongruously juvenile indignation, but David was beyond 
being ashamed or amused and went on, 'It's not always like this . . . 
they hate me and they hate him. He's going to be something more 
than a squalid peasant squatting on a piece of worn-out land, and 
they cannot bear it. There's something singularly repulsive about 
the envy of the poor.' To the maid, clearing the plates, he said, 
'Is there anything else to eat?' 

'Si, signor, polio.* 

The chicken was served : they all chewed and chewed. Macalister 
brought in more wine and David said, *I suppose you're doing 
your best, but it's uneatably tough.' Willing to be helpful, Macalister 
said, 'Will I shairpen the knives for ye ?' 

'Oh, God!' 

They went early to bed: like chorus and anti-chorus, bass and 
alto, frogs and crickets answered each other; kozvark, kowark, and 
then a shrilling only less penetrating than the high-pitched rattle 
of the cicadas, now silenced by darkness. From time to time the 
frogs raised their united voices in a prolonged shout. It seemed 
to Edward that Celia would never sleep through the noise and he 
got quietly out of bed and went to stand by her door. She was 
sleeping; he stood for a long time listening to her even breathing, 
gaining peace of mind from it, starting when she turned and mut- 
tered in her sleep. He went back to bed and slept. When he opened 
his eyes it was to see a pattern of moving light on the ceiling, a 
flicker waxing and waning. The sun was on the sea. He rose and 
went to the window. The whole bay showed as if it were brand new. 
His watch said ten to seven. He put on swimming trunks and pulled 
trousers and a shirt over them. Celia was still asleep. Down in the 

261 



garden the leaves of the orange-tree were wet with dew and the 
holmoaks had distilled patches of moisture on to the paths. He found 
the path down to the beach. It had been roughly hacked with a 
mattock, a zigzag down the face of a forty-five-degree slope, but 
there were tough cistus and terebinth, juniper and arbutus to hold 
on to, and the mingled scents of lavender and thyme and lad's love 
rose from beneath his feet. The beach lay in a fault in the face of 
the cliff. It was coarse red and black sand, dry beside the tideless 
sea. There was nobody with the three fishing boats painted with 
pitch and drawn up onto the sand. He took off his clothes and walked 
into the sea: the water had the same temperature as the air. He 
began to swim straight out from the beach, crawl, side-stroke and 
breast-stroke alternately. When he came out of the sea he dried 
himself on his shirt, having forgotten to bring a towel and, carrying 
it in his hand, climbed slowly to the cliff-top. He stopped to stare 
at a black lizard on a red stone, at the papery flowers of cistus, and 
to press a sprig of thyme between his fingers, under his nose. It 
was half past eight when he reached the top and sat down to rest 
and look at the sea. As he rose to finish the walk to the villa, two 
stocky men in their fifties, one with a heavy moustache, both 
wearing round, black felt hats, came along the cliff-top path. The 
man with the moustache had a single-barrel shot-gun under his 
arm. They had been talking excitedly, with much gesticulation, 
but fell silent when they saw Edward; the armed man stared hard 
at his naked torso. Edward said, ' Buon'giorno, signore.' Both returned 
this greeting and touched their hats. He let them go ahead of him 
and followed them. There had been something about the way the 
armed man looked at him which made him stop and put on his 
damp shirt. Celia was standing in the porch when Edward came to 
the house. There was no sign of the two men. She said, 'Why didn't 
you wake me to bathe with you ?' 

'You were having such a good sleep.* 

T should have liked to go swimming.' 

'Let's go back, then.' 

'No. Breakfast is ready.' 

'You look rested.' She smiled and Edward added, 'It's a nice little 
beach. We'll go there after breakfast.' Then he told her about the 
two men, and she looked troubled, and said, 'There's something 
funny going on.' 

The breakfast-room was a corner parlour in the central block, 
full of light and furnished with marble and iron furniture. David 

262 



was not down. Macalister, in engineer's overalls, supervising the 
service of a very good English breakfast, spoke highly of the kippers, 
flown to Naples from the Isle of Man. David, he said, always had 
breakfast in his room. He left them to serve themselves from the 
hotplate. Celia said it was rather nice, the room, and the breakfast, 
and being alone. 'You'd rather have our host's room than his com- 
pany?' Edward said, and she, 'He's impossible, in this state. I wish 
we knew what went on.' 

The window on to the fountain court began at a foot from the 
ground. A movement outside catching his eye, Edward looked up 
from his plate to see a round, black hat being withdrawn from sight. 
He got up and went to the window. Celia said, 'What is it ?' 

'Someone peering in. One of my two gentlemen, I fancy.' 

They were in the court, and at the sight of him the clean-shaven 
one came to the window, while the other still stood, leaning on his 
shot-gun by the fountain, looking like a partisan, a sentry in some 
nineteenth-century revolution of the most respectable kind, the 
way they had them in those days. The spokesman of the pair said, 
'Is that guy Mendoza about, bud?' Edward was taken aback at 
being addressed in demotic American. He said, 'What does your 
friend think he's doing with a gun in here ?' 

'Him? They hunt anything round here, sparrows, anything. 
The guy's my brother, name of Sesti. We gotta talk to Mendoza.' 

'Well, you'd better try later, he's not up yet. Can I give him a 
message ?' 

'I guess not, brother. We'll just hang around.' He took a fat 
shagreen case from an inner pocket and offered it. 'Cigar? They're 
O.K. Havana.' 

'No thanks, I'll go and finish my breakfast if you'll excuse me.' 
He nodded and joined his brother and together they walked away 
into the garden. Edward returned to his place and rang the bell, 
and when the maid came, asked for Macalister. When he presented 
himself, Edward told him what had happened and said that he had 
better go and tell Mr. Mendoza. Macalister replied that he'd save 
his breath to cool his porridge, 'He wudnae see yon fella yester 
e'en, for why sud he see him the day ?' 

So Signor Sesti was the 'old ane'. Edward said, 'What do you 
suppose they want, Macalister ?' 

'I cudnae say.' 

'Very well. I'll tell Mr. Mendoza when I see him.' 

Macalister nodded and left them, waddling, fleshy, massively 

263 



indifferent. Celia said, 'It's that pansy boy. If David doesn't send 
him away, there'll be trouble. I can smell it. I don't like it.' 

'It's nothing to do with us.' 

*It will be if there's a. jacquerie,* she said, laughing but not really 
amused. Then she said that instead of going swimming, she would 
walk into the village and see what she could pick up by way of 
gossip. *My Italian isn't up to much, but it will do. Coming?' 

'Not unless you need me.' 

She shook her head. David had not yet come down when she went 
out to find the road to Lauria. Edward went up to his room. Enrico, 
white-faced and distraught, was just coming out, and shoved past 
him, muttering sulkily. David was sitting by the window in pyjamas 
and dressing-gown, and turned his head as Edward came in and 
said, 'Hallo, Edward.' His face looked fleshy, heavy and unshaven, 
a grey, old- womanly face, barring the stubble. Edward said, 'Look, 
what goes on here ?' 

'What do you mean?' 

'There's a couple of characters hanging about outside and asking 
for you. Some of the priest's allies? One has a shot-gun, and the 
other a rank Brooklyn accent, if it is Brooklyn and not some other 
parish over there.' 

'Sesti and his brother, a returned immigrant. Ignore them.' 

'The immigrant won't be ignored. He calls me buddy and offers 
me cigars. Seriously, David, what do they want of you ?' 

'They want me to send Enrico away.' 

'What does he think about it ?' 

'They're frightening him. But he wants to stay, of course.' 

'He seems very upset.' 

'He's very highly strung.' 

Whatever David had always been, he had not formerly used ex- 
pressions like 'highly strung'. It was very depressing. Edward said, 
'I'm going to the beach. Coming?' 

'I won't if you don't mind. I feel rather off-colour. I'm not being 
much of a host, am I ? I shall stay in today.' 

In short he was not prepared to face the Sestis; or he was afraid 
of another meeting with Don Clementi. Edward said, 'If those men 
are annoying you by hanging about, can't you get the police to move 
them on or whatever they do here?' 

'There's only the Lauria policeman, two of them actually, and 
they do whatever the Sestis tell them. Excepting that they're all, 
police and local politicians and gangsters, frightened of Count Gela, 

264 



but he's away at his house in Rome. I've been expecting him back 
for some days. If he had been here, there would never have been 
this trouble.' 

'Who is he ?' 

David's face brightened and his manner became a shade livelier; 
with a pomp which was only partly facetious, he recited, 'Manfredo 
Gela, Count of Licata, Duke of Canicatti, Duke of Chilarza, Prince 
of Pontelandolfo and Galore, Knight Grand Cross of Malta . . . oh, 
and Prince of the Holy Roman Empire.' 

*And husband, no doubt, of an American heiress ?' 

'Dear me, no. The Count isn't married and he could buy out most 
American heiresses. He's in oil, aluminium, and half a dozen other 
things. He has a nice little place seven kilometres the other side of 
Lauria — forty thousand hectares, mostly cattle ranch and olive 
groves. He's about the only employer they can look to round here. 
Incidentally, he's a considerable archaeologist. He's dug up half the 
province. You'll see his collection before you go. He's crazy about 
early terracotta.' 

'And has the authorities in his pocket ?' 

'By letting them dip their dirty hands in his, yes.' 

'What's he like?' 

'A stereotyped nobleman regretting the Bourbons. Rather a 
horrible old thing, really. Polished and . . . dead. Until you re- 
member his company directorships. I loathe a gentleman in busi- 
ness — so much more coldly unscrupulous than the middle-class 
rogue.' 

'Well, it's certainly a pity he isn't here.' 

David shrugged. Edward left him and, taking a towel and a book, 
walked along the cliff-top and down to the beach. It was excessively 
hot and he thought of Celia in Lauria. Two men and a boy, all with 
feet as bare and brown and expressive as their faces, w^ere launching 
one of the fishing-boats and making heavy weather of it. Edward 
swam and read and smoked away most of the forenoon. While he 
was in the sea for the last time before going back to the villa, Celia 
came down the cliff-path and across the dark, hot sand, wearing a 
bathing suit with a cotton frock over it. He waved and presently 
she was swimming out to him. They floated on their backs, side by 
side, a hundred yards out and with the sun in their eyes. He said, 
'You weren't long.' 

'I hitch-hiked back in a Cadillac the size of the Queen Mary.' 

'Whose, for heaven's sake ?' 

265 



'The owner wasn't in it, it was being driven by a chauffeur who 
looked like that womanly Da Vinci Christ, but with a crew-cut.' 

Edward wolf- whistled and said, 'Who owned him?' 

'One Count Gela.' 

'Ah, then he's back.' 

'Who's back where ?* 

'Count Gela.' 

'No idea. I gathered that the chauffeur was carrying a letter from 
his boss to David.' 

'Excellent news. I'll race you to the beach.' 

Her crawl was faster than his and she beat him by a yard. 'This 
damned Mediterranean water's too warm,' she said, puUing off 
her rubber cap and shaking out her hair. 'Not a bit refreshing.' 

'What did you find out ?' he asked her. 

'What's all this about Count Gela?' 

'Tell your news first.' 

'There's not much. Edward, it's a ghastly place, two rows of dirty 
hovels, a cafe, and a miserable street market of dusty fruit and 
vegetables wilting in the heat. There's a butcher's shop with half 
a bullock carcass hanging from a hook out in the street. The innards 
were still in it, or most of them. It was camouflaged, though. By 
about a million flies. The children — swarms of them, and very pretty, 
but half with swollen bellies and all with their bones showing. 
Even the church is wretched. God, this is a horrible country!' 

'Beautiful, though.' 

'Not to me, not after this morning. It's rotting. I can smell 
it . . . carrion. I wanted to — to smash things.' 

'Relax. So you found out nothing?' 

'There was a woman in the market with five small eggs and a 
scraggy chicken for sale. She talked a bit. Extraordinary old creature 
— teak face, horse's hair and eyes like a Chinaman. But she was 
more forthcoming than the rest. I gathered she thought Sesti a 
fool for not making over Enrico to vol altri estr anger e for cash on the 
nail. She was hostile but candid. Lumped us all together. I wanted 
to repudiate David, but didn't. I gather Enrico's willing to obey 
his father and clear out, but the old man insists on his bringing 
away a year's pay in lieu of notice . . . and anything else he can lay 
hands on.' 

'Nice people.' 

'Why should they be? God, that butcher's shop!' 

David was waiting for them in the courtyard. He had a table, 

266 



chairs and drinks set out under the orange-tree. Dressed in white 
tussore he looked fifteen years younger than he had done that morn- 
ing: say forty. He called gaily, *My neighbour Gela is back! He's 
invited us to dinner on Friday night. You won't starve if you can 
hold out till then. Well, Celia, what do you think of Lauria ?' 

She sat down and accepted the drink he poured. She said, 'I'd 
Hke to have the Laurians flogged for not marching about the country- 
side hanging the rich and burning down their houses.' 

David laughed uneasily and fidgeted in his chair. *I began,' he 
said, *by giving money away right and left. It was a mistake. They 
sensed what it was: buying a respite from the nagging my con- 
science gave me at the sight of them.' 

There was something either in this or in the way he said it that 
so oflFended Celia that her contempt appeared clearly in her face. 
David saw it and in a moment it became clear that the recovery of 
nerve which seemed to have occurred that morning was not real. 
His face went very white and soft and in a voice pitched too high 
he said, 'How you despise me, don't you, Celia dear?' 

This was the kind of hysteria Edward had witnessed in the garden. 
Edward began, *Now look . . .' but neither of them took any notice 
of him. Celia said, abruptly, 'David, send that child away.' 

'Child!' He gave a sort of hysterical squeak of laughter, and then, 
with an anger, a kind of indignation rather and which was quite 
unconvincing and which told Edward that his friend was trying to 
see himself as Charlus to Enrico's Ciiarlie Morel, 'What exactly 
do you mean, child} I suppose you realize what you're accusing me 
of?' 

'Yes,' Celia said, and, 'Send him away, David. Don't blame him, 
it's mean and contemptible. And spare yourself. Send him away.' 

With horrifyingly sudden loss of control, more shocking even 
than what he then revealed, he began to shout at her, 'I can't, you 
smug fool! I can't! Oh, I'd do it! I'm down to that, I'd betray him 
tomorrow, now, this minute, send him back to them to use as live 
bait for the next victim . . . that's what he was, you know that, of 
course you know that! They're born fishermen in these parts, but 
it's a very long time since the fisher-lads of Lauria, or Sorrento, or 
Capri confined themselves to sea-fishing. They're fishers of men in 
these parts, but not like the evangelists, not quite! . . .' He went on 
raving like that, stringing together phrases anyhow, pulling them out 
of the whirlpool of them which was eroding his mind, until Edward 
jumped to his feet and yelled at him to shut up. He did, at once. 

267 



Celia was looking at him in perplexity and distaste. Edward said, 
'What, in fact, is all this about ?' Rationally and dully, pouring drinks 
with a shaking hand, he told them, *The Sesti brothers want five 
thousand pounds. To keep quiet. Enrico is . . . below the age of 
consent. I didn't know that.' 

'Didn't you, David?' Celia said. 

'No!' he shouted and, lowering his voice and looking into his 
whisky, 'They can probably get me two years.' 

'Then hadn't you better pay them the five thousand?' Edward 
said. 

'I can't.' 

'Why not?' 

'Because I haven't got five thousand, or five hundred, or for that 
matter fifty, at the moment.' 

In a way, that shocked Edward more than all the rest: we forgive 
the rich so much for being rich. And besides it jarred a lifetime's 
habit of thought; for Edward, David was and must be a millionaire. 
He was about to say that he could surely raise so trifling a sum when 
Celia said, 'Of course you mustn't pay it. And yoii must send the 
boy away.' 

'And go to prison ?' he said, looking at her with sudden, detached 
curiosity. 

'Yes.' 

The pressure which her assurance, the implacable hardness of 
her simpHcity, put upon him, was too much. Either his exasperation 
with what, to him, seemed wilful bUndness, or with himself for 
feeling a rightness in her judgement, broke down his frail control 
again. He rose and pushed his chair violently out of the way and 
screamed at her, 'For God's sake leave me alone!* and rushed into 
the house. 



When David came down to breakfast on the following morning he 
looked old and ill and sulky. Celia sat eating toast and drinking coffee 
with a sort of self-conscious calm, her eyes cast down. Her hands 
shook very slightly. Edward, between them, felt himself excluded : 
they were alone together in some kind of struggle. He could not have 
been more completely the third who is not company if Celia and 
David had been in love. 



268 



Very much to Edward's surprise Celia presently looked directly 
at David and without preamble, as if they had been talking, inaudibly 
to Edward, for some time, she said, 'Is Don Clementi involved with 
the Sestis in blackmailing you ?' 

David, whose breakfast was confined to black coffee, looked at her 
quickly, and away again. He said, with an affectation of humour, 
'I take it he is their dupe rather than their accomplice. He believes 
me to be an unrepentant voluptuary refusing to let the boy go. 
He sees me, you know, entrenched behind the arrogance of wealth, 
keeping Enrico despite his injured father.' 

It was painful for Edward to hear his friend talking in this style : 
one of David's qualities had always been that honesty which mani- 
fests itself in the communication of thought with unaffected sim- 
plicity. Celia, almost as white as David, said, 'Isn't there some truth 
in that ?' 

'Some truth, yes, of course. If you think it is the whole truth, you 
must despise me very much, Celia.' 

Edward felt a powerful impulse to say something, anything to 
break the nerve-racking tension between Celia and David, a tension 
as perceptible as that between two wrestlers straining in a perfectly 
matched hold. All he could think of was, 'I wish to God I had 
five thousand, you'd be welcome to it.' This made so little impression 
that when David answered him he had the air of a man briefly 
detaching his mind from an important matter to deal with a triviality. 
There had been a trace of resentment in Edward's tone, however, 
and although all David said was, 'My dear Edward, please! I know 
exactly how it is,' yet his eyes implored his friend not to be angry 
with him for needing help which Edward was too poor to give. 

In the course of this exchange, and while Edward persisted in 
discussing this aspect of the matter, Celia kept her eyes down and 
her face blank. It irritated Edward intensely: he thought that she 
was behaving like a nun who, forced to listen to blasphemy, carefully 
absents her mind. Edward said, 'What about your father, David?' 

'Since my mother's death he has given me as little as possible. 
He can even keep me out of what she has left me by simply going 
on living. I don't get it until he dies. If I ask him for money he will 
find out what it's for and not only refuse it but cut me off for the 
rest of his life.' 

There was a silence. At once, Celia resumed her dominion over 
David, who, even while engaged with Edward, had paid her a kind 
of uneasy, almost furtive attention, as if she were a source of danger. 

269 



Completely ignoring what had passed since David had accused her 
of despising him, she said, 'I don't suppose what I feel about you 
can matter, but I certainly should not despise you, as you put it, 
if you did what you should do.' 

'Ah, and what should I do ?' 

'Send Enrico Sesti back to his father. If Sesti or the priest go to 
the Quaestura and inform against you, leave the country. I don't 
believe they'd try and stop you. They'd probably do no more than 
cancel your residence permit.' All this she said with maddening 
coolness, a coolness in urging a risk oa somebody else which exas- 
perated the anger that her whole attitude of righteousness, the com- 
placency of the justified, was giving Edward's self a chance to take 
charge of him. But suddenly, abandoning her calm attitude, Celia 
flushed and cried out, 'For God's sake show a little courage!' 

'The courage of my vices, eh, Celia?' David said. He had his eyes 
fixed on her face and his own paleness was giving way to a dark 
flush, his look of age to a kind of false youthfulness. Edward thought 
that David's change of countenance forecast another outburst of 
hysterical anger: but it may have been a kind of jealousy which 
made him say, *I wish you'd stop interfering, Celia, and I hope to 
God David isn't fool enough to take your advice.' Then, trying to 
lighten the tone, 'You'll land him in a Wop prison and it's he who'll 
have to do time, not you.' 

The tension in that sun-bright room where, for a moment, only 
the musical sound of fountain water falling into the basin in the 
courtyard broke the silence, shifted. Celia's whole manner changed : 
for David there had been a kind of implacable goodwill; she con- 
demned his moeurs and despised his weakness, yet had, perhaps, 
sensed in him a convert. To Edward she said, almost carelessly, 
'There are better ways out of a jam than wangling or buying your 
way.' 

'Oh, don't be so childish,' Edward said, because he did not want to 
— or could not — find words to express his resentment of the insult 

'Childish? Surely not. I was merely pointing out . . .' 

'You were doing what you're a bloody sight too apt to do, being 
damned self-righteous and complacent and sure you know it all.' 

Edward's tone was venomous. She said, 'Naturally, you confuse 
right and righteousness. My dear Edward, you don't understand. 
How could you? Your shabby little affair with that slut down at 
Goudhurst is typical: keep it dark, but when you're found out, 
attribute your behaviour to your good, kind heart . . .' 

270 



David said, 'Here, I say, now look, you two ' and Celia 

turned to him and said, 'I'm not blaming him. He can't help it. 
He's just a long string of negatives. Negative virtues and negative 
vices.' And, with that want oi pudor which so shocks men in women 
— *I no more blame him for it than for being unable to give me a 
child. It's a sort of moral sterility ' 

Edward was mortally angry : with a physical spasm of the kind of 
blind rage which had made him hit her in the face back at home, he 
said, with the bile of fury souring his mouth and rasping his throat, 
'Unless, of course, it's you who can't give me one.' 

David had gone very white again and his eyes, which went from 
Celia to Edward and back again, were full of pain. He said nothing : 
he had sensed that he could no more stop this than stem the tide. 
Celia stood up, her face livid and looked down at Edward and said, 
bitterly, 'Oh no you don't! You can't put that on to me too! By your 
own account, and behaving the way you do with as much restraint 
as a randy tomcat you'll have had plenty of time to find out, and it's 
not as if you're careful, you'll have been as sloppy in that as in every- 
thing else . . .' 

'You're ignoring what the doctors . . .' 

'Doctors! As if they knew anything, and . . .* 

'And as to carelessness,' Edward said — he had been rotating his 
lower jaw until it ached, it was true that you ground your teeth 
if you were angry enough — 'as to carelessness, that's just the 
point: I wasn't careful enough — once.' 

'You're lying! You told me — what's your game now?' 

'Game? No game. Arthur Figgis is my son. Twelve years old. 
Like me he's not very bright. Failed his eleven-plus.* 

'You were always a liar,' CeUa said, but not with assurance. 

'Not invariably,' Edward said, beginning to regret hitting so hard, 
but hitting again, 'you must look at my bank-statements some time. 
You've no idea the money a child runs away with.' 

Too late to prevent serious damage, David suddenly hit the table 
with his hand and, at the top of his voice, shouted 'Stop it!' They 
both looked at him. He smiled palely and said, 'That's better. 
Celia, that child is no more Edward's than he's mine. You're 
supposed to be helping me, not indulging in a domestic brawl.' 
Something of his occasional waspishness went into the words 
'domestic brawl'. Edward said, 'Helping! A fat lot of ' 

'Shut up!' David said and, to Edward's astonishment, 'Celia's 
right.' 

271 



Celia sat down. Edward said, 'You mean you're going * 

*If I can keep it up — yes.' 

'You'll keep it up,' Celia said. Edward looked from David to 
Celia. The tension united them again, like a field of force which, 
it seemed to Edward, was only just not visible. He said, *My Christ!' 
and turned and made for the door, and as he reached it Macalister 
came in with a telegram on a dirty silver tray. Edward would have 
gone round him and out, but the man said, *It's for you.' Edward 
took it and, standing by the door, opened it, the others watching 
him. He waited until Macalister had withdrawn and, in a neutral 
voice, playing it for effect, for pity, though his grief was real, said, 
*My Aunt Sarah's dying. She's asking for me,' and followed Mac- 
alister out of the room. 

He went up to the bedroom and sat on the bed and looked at the 
telegram again. A minute later Celia came into the room. Her face 
was still set in pale hostility. She said, 'I'm sorry about your news.' 
He said nothing. He was seeing Sarah Tillotson's great, gaunt, 
gawky frame as she worked it, with a kind of madly energetic rowing 
motion of all her limbs, down the cinder path towards him : he was 
hearing her say, 'Happen one of these days you'll be punctual, you 
image, you! The tea's stewed'; he was seeing, behind her, that 
huge warning of the Lord's coming. Celia took a hesitating pace 
towards him. 'You're crying,' she said, with astonishment. He turned 
his face away. She said, *I never saw you cry before,' and quickly, to 
save him from having to say anything to that, 'You'll fly back from 
Naples?' 

'I'll go there at once and wait for the first plane I can get.' He 
rose as if he were very tired and added, 'We'd better go and put 
what we need into a case.' 

'Not me,' she said, 'I'm staying.' 

He looked at her, wiping his eyes, saying, stupidly, 'Staying? 
Here?' 

'You can't expect,' she began, her face hardening and her eyes 
angry again, then abandoned whatever she was going to say and 
said, 'Besides, there's David. You can leave the car. That brute of 
a mechanic can go with you to Naples and drive it back.* 

'Celia,' Edward said, 'you'll come home soon?' 

'To England, yes. Home — I don't know.' 

'What I said just now was a lie, of course.' 

'Was it?' 



272 



The crisis came that evening after dinner. It was very hot and the 
least uncomfortable room in the house was the great hall. Celia 
and David were drinking coffee and brandy with the big double 
doors open on to the court. Celia was playing patience with a pack 
of miniature cards. David was writing a note ; it was the note which 
was to ask the priest Clementi to call and take away Enrico Sesti. 
Celia had suggested that way of dealing with the situation. David 
had not commented, nor had his expression changed: with a kind 
of eagerness, he was doing what she told him to do. What startled 
them was sudden silence : the frogs had stopped their eternal clamour. 
They became aware of another sound, like the muttering of many 
far voices. Signor Sesti, the ex-American one, not the injured father 
appeared in the open doorway. He was chewing. He said, *Hy'a, 
folks.' David stood up. Sesti took off his round hat with one hand, 
removed the gum from his mouth with the left, and having stuck 
the gum somewhere inside the hat, put it back on his head. David, 
standing now, and with hysteria near the surface of his voice and 
manner, said, 'Will you please get out of my house.' 

'Now Hsten, brother . . .' 

'Get out! Get out!' 

'Some of the boys have come up, quite a bunch. There's a couple 
of sonsabitches among them and they ain't going to like it if you . . .' 

He fell silent and took a startled pace backwards as Ctlia rose 
and went to the door. Only the other Sesti stood in the court, 
without his gun. But at that moment the parocco, followed by 
about a dozen men all talking excitedly, crossed the colonnade into 
the court. They had the look of a stage army, and their talk seemed 
a gabble to suggest the anger of a multitude. Their gestures, too, 
were for the front row of the stalls. The priest saw Celia and shouted 
something that sounded like an impassioned plea. Aware of David 
at her shoulder, Celia said, 'They want the boy, Enrico Sesti.* 

'They're welcome. You'd better go and fetch him.' 

'They're in a nasty temper,' Celia said. But the scene impressed 
her not by its real, but by its theatrical, quality: she would hardly 
have been surprised if the men had suddenly grouped themselves 
round the priest and started to sing the next number for chorus. 
She turned away to go in search of Enrico and saw Macalister come 
in and heard David say, 'Find Enrico and send him here.' She did 
not like the look of David's face, it was set in a sort of rictus of 
grief, but his eyes were fiery, a little mad. She turned back to the 
door and stepped into the court and opened her mouth to call the 

273 



priest to her, when there was a crash and tinkle of broken glass 
behind her. She stepped back. A stone had shattered the big pane 
of one glazed door. She retreated into the room and only then saw 
David, with his back to her, at a big tallboy in an alcove. He turned 
and she saw that he had a service revolver in his hand and immediately, 
with all the authority she could express, said, 'Don't be a bloody 
fool, David. Put that thing away at once!' Almost at the same time 
she realized that the choice of words and manner could not have 
been worse. David ignored them, or maybe did not even hear them. 

David came to the doors, shoved her aside and reached for the 
light switch. In a moment the court, the fountain, the orange-tree, 
the tall priest, the two Sestis, the mischief-seeking Laurians were, 
as to their reality, concealed by a flood of light tendentious as romantic 
literature, heroic light, son-et-lumiere light. Hollows in faces ceased 
to represent under-nourishment and represented starvation; the 
Laurians ceased to be a chorus of under-privileged and became a 
chorus of oppressed peasantry; eyes no longer gleamed with mis- 
chievous excitement, but with wild passions ; the court was no longer 
a familiar part of a known house, but a 'set', over-coloured, two- 
dimensional, where anything could happen but it would not matter. 
David stood in the doorway with arms loosely hanging and the 
revolver pendant from his right hand. He spoke in Italian, his voice 
almost shrill. Celia gasped, 'God, you fool!' The leading men, the 
Sestis and the priest, gave back a pace, and there was more gabble 
from the chorus. Celia heard a clatter of leather soles on the stone 
stairs behind her and half turned to see Enrico rushing across the 
hall towards them. He dived between Celia and David, and Celia 
saw his face, white, with the overwrought passion which suited the 
scene, his hyacinthine locks in thespian disorder. David gave a cry 
of Enrico! overcharged with feeling. He dropped the gun and 
darted out into the court after the boy. Celia yelled at him, 'Come 
back! David, you promised!' and stopped to pick up the gun. 
When she straightened up there was a sort of rugby scrum in the 
court. She saw Enrico's face, white and convulsed with rage, and 
a great hole of a mouth wide open, bawling. The boy vanished; 
she saw David throw up his arms with sudden violence which was 
not theatrical, which injected terror into her. Then David fell, 
and almost at once there were men all round and over him, all but 
the priest and the American Sesti. 

Celia had no idea how to use a firearm and an enormous reluctance 
to try. Holding the revolver pointed, she stepped into the courtyard. 

274 



As she did so the group of struggUng men began to come apart, 
there were warning shouts, two or three men turned away and ran 
among the trees, there was a shot and a scream, two policemen in 
uniform came out of the trees, followed by a tall thin man and a 
short burly man, both in plain clothes. One of the policemen ran 
towards the now disintegrating scrum and began to hit a short, 
slight young man repeatedly on the back of his head with the barrel 
of an automatic pistol. He collapsed, ridiculously, and the policeman 
dragged him away. The rest scattered and ran. Only the priest 
remained, and CeHa, standing over David, with the gun still in her 
hand. She dropped it and knelt beside him. He looked broken, like 
a fractured dummy; a picture of a riot victim in a newspaper, after 
the police had cleared the mob. A voice above her said, in Italianate 
English, *Is he badly hurt.?' Celia said, 'Yes, very badly,' and 
looking up, 'Where's the nearest doctor?' The burly man, standing 
beside his companion and carrying an ordinary shoe-box under one 
arm, said, in English almost free from accent, T'U go and telephone 
for the ambulance,' and went into the house. As he did so Macalister 
came out and before he could speak Celia said, T'm not going to 
move him. Get me a clean sheet, scissors, hot water, a blanket and 
a pillow. And be quick about it.' She was aware of herself 'coping'. 

The tall stranger stooped and picked up the revolver, fiddled with 
it until he had found out how to disengage the revolving magazine 
and said, 'It is not charged.' The burly man, still carrying the shoe- 
box, came out of the house and stood beside them and said, 'The 
ambulance is on its way. It is a very great pity we were not five 
minutes earlier.' 

Macahster came out with the things Celia had asked for. Celia 
cleaned David's face. He did not stir. She took the scissors, hesi- 
tated, put them down and said, 'I don't think I'll do anything but 
cover him.' With Macalister's help she put sheet and blanket round 
and over him. She stood up and said to Macalister, 'Stay with him' 
and went into the house, followed by the two men. When she 
turned to face them, the taller man said, 'You must be the Signora 

Tillotson. Signor Tillotson ' 'Has gone to England. Who are 

you, please ? Police }' 

The tall man was very handsome; tall, lean, swarthy, and with 
an air of great distinction. He smiled thinly and said, 'My name is 

Margravini. I am an advocate. From Rome. I was staying with ' 

he interrupted himself, turning to the burly man and saying, with 
respect, almost with deference, 'Excellency, mav I present the 

275 



Signora Tillotson. Signora Tillotson, the Count Gela.' Celia bowed. 
The count came forward and kissed her hand and she saw David's 
blood on it. Count Gela had the big, red, lumpish face of an English 
country lout. His finger-nails were dirty and under a light overcoat 
his dinner-jacket was stained and creased. He sat in the chair Celia 
indicated. She said, 'Will you gentlemen have whisky ? How long will 
the ambulance be ?' 

'Not less than an hour,' Count Gela said. When Celia brought 
him his whisky she saw that he had the shoe-box on his knees and 
offered to take it from him and he said, 'This ? It was this brought 
me over here. I wanted to show Mendoza my latest find from our 
dig at Lauria Alta. It was as we passed through the village that we 
learnt of this trouble.' He had been speaking coolly but now he hit 
the arm of his chair with a square, blunt-fingered hand and burst 
out, 'They shall pay for this, by God!' His violence was impressive 
and, to Celia, repulsive. It crossed her mind that Count Gela was 
an evil, or at least a wicked, old man. With a second and equally 
abrupt change of manner, he said, *I was so pleased with my find 
that I could not wait until Friday to boast of it.' He swallowed his 
whisky, put down the glass, took the lid off the box, lifted out a 
terracotta figurine a foot tall, spilling sawdust packing on the floor, 
and stood it on the table by his side. 'Is she not beautiful?' he said. 

This utterly inconsequential intrusion of archaeology into the 
farcical-tragedy in which she was involved, seemed to Celia so extra- 
ordinary that she was confused. The count continued to look smil- 
ingly at the figurine. 'Nothing so perfect ever came out of Tanagra,' 
he said. 'It's very nice,' Celia said. The count turned and looked 
up at her and said, 'But you are preoccupied with what you consider 
more important. You are mistaken, Mrs. Tillotson. What happened 

tonight is an incident. My Demeter ' he nodded towards the 

figurine, 'is an eternal achievement.' This coldness intensified 
Celia's dislike of the man. Count Gela stopped smiling and said, 
'I suppose you know what started tonight's trouble?' and when she 
nodded, 'And you realize this outrage settles nothing ?' 

'Sesti can hardly denounce David Mendoza to the police now.' 

'Why not? They will talk of moral indignation. Sesti, I could 
frighten into silence. It is this parocco who is the trouble. A candid 
soul, Mrs. Tillotson, and a sort of Jansenist. He can, of course, be 
disciplined by my good friend the cardinal-archbishop. But even 
if we threaten to send the fellow as chaplain to a penal colony, I 
tell you now he will accept that as from God.' 

276 



'What would Mr. Mendoza be charged with? I understand that 
homosexuaUty is not a crime in Italy.' 

The count looked at Margravini who was sitting perfectly erect 
and still on a small Louis XV chair. The lawyer said, 'Our law is 
more liberal than yours. Homosexuality is not even a misdemeanour. 
It is, no doubt, a sin, but that is a matter for the Church, not the 
law ' 

At this moment Macalister appeared again to say that an old 
woman was asking to see His Excellency. 

'Who is she ?' the count asked, scowling. 

'I dinnae ken her name,' Macalister said and went on to explain 
that she was 'greetin ' and carrying on about her grandson being 
taken away by the police. 

'I won't see her,' Count Gela said. He dismissed Macalister with- 
out waiting for Celia to do so. There was a short silence filled only 
by the kowark^ kowark of the frogs. Celia looked at the lawyer and 
said, 'You were saying?' 

'Ah yes. Signora Tillotson, the ragazzo is not yet sixteen and 
Mr. Mendoza is to be charged with corrupting a minor.' 

'By the father, or the ' 

^Procuratore delta Repuhblica? By neither. The law demands that 
the boy himself bring the plaint before the magistrates.' 

'But will he agree to do that?' 

'Why not? There is nothing more to be got from your friend. 
There is, unfortunately, an aggravation which, in the event of an 
unfavourable verdict, will add one-third to Mr. Mendoza' s punish- 
ment. The boy was his servant. In Italy, the crime of corrupting a 
minor — the sex is immaterial — is regarded as more serious when 
the plaintiff is the defendant's servant, because where a servant is a 
juvenile the master stands in loco parentis.' 

This counsel's opinion was interrupted by the arrival of the 
ambulance. The hospital doctor who came with it decided not to 
examine David until he had him on the operating table. This doctor 
was an elderly, morose man with a hostile manner. When Count 
Gela complained that he had taken his time he replied, curtly, 
nodding towards the ambulance, that he had three other cases in 
there, picked up in Lauria and, looking at them with more hostility 

than ever, began, 'Whoever is responsible for this ' Margravini, 

who was clearly shocked by his manner, said, 'This gentleman is 
His Excellency Count Gela.' The doctor looked at the count and, to 
CeUa's delight, said, 'I don't care if he's His Holiness the Pope,' 

277 



and got into the ambulance beside the driver. Celia ran to him and 
said, Tlease, doctor, will you ask someone to telephone me when 
you have examined my friend.' 

*I will telephone within the hour,' he said. 

As Celia and the two men went back into the house. Count Gela 
said, 'An insolent rascal, but good at his job. If we may, we will 
wait for the verdict here.' 

'Of course. I hope the others are not badly hurt.' 

'Peasants, Mrs. Tillotson, don't die of scratches received in a 
brawl. And suppose they did? You have doubtless read Carlo 
Levi ? The life of a South Italian peasant is not much to hold on to. 
And then they are so numerous! As you say in England, plenty 
more where those came from!' 

As they went back into the room Celia switched off the outside 
light, which had made the whole scene of the past two hours ex- 
cessively theatrical. As she did so she was aware of a movement 
somewhere behind her and turned quickly. She thought she saw a 
shadow flit beyond the fountain, but was not sure and said nothing. 
She went to pour out more whisky for her guests and herself. The 
count and the advocate stood by the terracotta figurine. When Celia 
approached with their drinks, the count said, 'Look at her, Mrs. 
Tillotson! Demeter, my tame' scholar calls her. Is this figure of 
suffering a mere goddess? Never!' He went on talking excitedly, 
saying that the statuette represented Woman and the continuity of 
her suffering, made by an artist of genius. For twenty years he had 
been saying and writing that the terracottas of Tanagra were 
nothing, but nothing, beside the terracottas of Lauria, and now 
this was the chef-d'oeuvre of that town's ancient and now nameless 
workmen. Could Mrs. Tillotson look upon her without feeling her 
kind heart bleed for that long line of pain from Eve to eternity? 
The gods did not suffer like this, not even Demeter whose child 
was taken from her to be a queen of the underworld. 

Celia was not unimpressed and for the first time examined the 
figure closely. The lines of the little statue were vertical and stiff. 
The arms were straight down the sides. The left hand was broken 
off, the right clenched into a fist. The face, framed in but not veiled 
by, the hood, had the corners of the eyes and mouth turned down. 
It was ageless, it expressed eternal pain, and it looked forward to no 
relief, not even death. It was this which made her say, 'AH the same, 
I think she's a goddess.' She put out her hand to touch the ancient 
piece of clay and Margravini said, 'Careful, signora. She is worth 

278 



several million lire.' Celia withdrew her hand and turned away 
towards the french windows: she had closed them when they re- 
turned to the room but it was airless, she missed the music of the 
fountain and — she suddenly noticed that the frogs were silent. Mov- 
ing to reopen the windows, she became aware of a figure standing 
six feet beyond the glass. She turned to the room to announce this 
and the count said, 'Why ? Why a goddess, Mrs. Tillotson ?' 

Celia said, 'Listen, Count, this is all very interesting, but I think 
there is someone spying on us, out in the courtyard.' 

Count Gela uttered a wordless exclamation, strode across the 
room, twisted the latch of the windows and flung them open. He 
bawled angrily into the night. A woman, her head in a shawl and 
her legs in a voluminous old rusty black skirt, came sidling into the 
room, her face working with an expression of imploring, placatory 
self-deprecation, her movement suggesting that she was not really 
coming into the room — far be such effrontery from her! — but 
going back the other way, back among the cypresses which, black 
in daylight, showed dark green in the electric light from the room. 
There was in her gait, her way of holding her hands palm outwards 
a little away from her body, her conventionally tragic face, the face 
of a thousand photogravure masterpieces in fifty-shilling picture 
books, of old women in backward lands, a cringing, imploring 
expression. Because Celia had seen this image so often, it was not 
less, but more, moving. The way the old woman moved into the 
room contriving to suggest that she was not — God forbid! — really 
disobeying what had evidently been an order to go away, but was 
being pushed against the inclination of her fearful humility by some 
force stronger than herself, was horrible; was, Celia thought, what 
no human being should have been brought down to. 

Because this newcomer and Count Gela spoke very fast in the 
Laurian patois of Italian, CeHa was forced to depend chiefly on 
gestures and expressions to understand the scene that followed, 
and on tones and volumes of voice as on a musical accompaniment. 
For perhaps two minutes before she was given any clear, verbal 
clue, there was an exchange between the old woman and the count : 
words Celia did not know; expressions and tones and movements 
she did. The old woman's face worked with feeUng, her passionate 
prayer for an end to something, to some pain which was torturing 
her, thrusting past the mask of submission which her life had 
fixed upon her. In the count, the denial of that prayer manifested 
itself first in curtness and then, perhaps to cover his own shame 

279 



at the rising of anger, in a noisy diatribe. Her speeches had been 
the long ones, and grew shorter; his had been short and now be- 
came long, breathless, loud, furiously over-emphatic and accom- 
panied by much violent movement of arms and hands and shoulders. 
She had been all movement, albeit timid movement, shifting a little 
and a little towards him, the lines of naked pain more clearly re- 
vealed as she drew nearer to the source of light in the room, her 
hands fluttering, going to her throat, her breast, or out towards him. 
But as, from still, he became more and more active, she fell into 
stillness, a stricken stillness while he stamped and waved his thick 
arms, clenching and shaking his fists. 

It was at this point that Margravini, who had moved silently up to 
Celia, muttered that two of the old woman's grandsons had already 
been taken up by the police, held and questioned in connection with 
the assault on Mr. Mendoza. She, Pia Agosti, swore they had nothing 
to do with the business, had not been near the Villa Nera, had been 
with her. She had, Celia said, an air of speaking the truth; Mar- 
gravini shrugged and said that the police had to arrest somebody, 
'She complains they have been a little rough with these boys.' 

Presently Celia realized by his movements that the count was 
invoking the lawyer's opinion. His Italian became comprehensible. 
He had said that he would not help the young Agosti, bandit and 
Communist that he was ; now let this learned man from Rome, hub 
of the world and source of all enlightenment, say why he could not. 
True, Margravini said, true: it was out of even His Excellency's 
power. The law had been invoked. 

Margravini had moved forward a little when called upon. At 
his movement the old woman raised her head and turned it towards 
him, yet contrived, because every still muscle in her work-stricken 
body had been disciplined by the mortification of self and had the 
ineradicable habit of humility, to give the impression that she was 
turning her head not in presumptuous hope, much less in an im- 
prudent attempt to pretend that she would understand what this 
learned man had to say, but because it is right to turn the head 
respectfully towards the judge, the passer of sentence. The lawyer 
spoke sharply and coldly, directing his words over her head. When 
he had done there was a short silence. Pia Agosti took a step towards 
Count Gela. At the same moment CeUa realized that the servile 
motions of the old woman's muscles, with their long habit of humility, 
were no longer a true guide. Grief, and now passionate anger, had 
overcome her. Her speech became a raving, and Celia's ear began 

280 



to penetrate the obscurity of the dialect. So the law had been 
invoked, had it? Well, she too, for all she was as they beheld her, 
could invoke the law! What of the child, the little girl, Eulalia? 
And of others she could name ? Let the count help her now or, as 
sure as Our Lady and Saint Humbert were her allies, they would 
see what the police thought of His Excellency's ways with other 
people's children. Yes, children, that is all they were ! 

That, as Celia understood it, was the gist of a threat to which 
the count responded like a lunatic. His face had turned livid, then 
almost purple. He began to shout; he raised his clenched fist. 
Celia said, 'No! Oh, no!' Neither of them heard her. The old 
woman did not retreat. The count's hands shot out and caught her 
by the shawl near her throat and began to shake her, thrusting his 
huge, furious face into hers, the incomprehensible words pouring 
out of his writhing mouth on a kind of prolonged scream. Distracted, 
Celia turned to Margravini; the lawyer was watching the scene with 
a slight smile in his eyes. Why not ? It was certainly funny, quite as 
funny as a man slipping on a banana-skin. It happened to be a 
kind of farce which Celia did not appreciate. Twice she shouted 
'Stop it!' and took an irresolute pace towards the count and his 
victim ; not a flicker of understanding crossed their faces, his purple, 
convulsed, hers livid, a mask of fear and hatred. Distractedly Celia 
looked about for a means of breaking into their minds ; she saw the 
Demeter and, without thought, but with a brief spasm of violent 
pleasure, as if it were the count himself whom she was flinging 
from a height, put out her hand and swept the figurine off" the 
table on to the tessellated floor. 

It shattered, but there was no crash, the thing was too light for 
that, a small flower-pot would have made more noise. But it worked. 
Count Gela heard it. Margravini stepped quickly forward to stand 
at Celia's side as the count flung the old woman from him and turned 
towards Celia and took three long strides and stood looking down at 
the shards of clay. Celia retreated a pace. Absurdly, she said, 'How 
clumsy of me!' Count Gela looked at her and with extraordinary 
venom, using lips and tongue as percussion instruments so that the 
word exploded in his mouth, said, 'Putana!' Margravini moved a 
little, laid a hand on the count's arm and, obviously shocked, said, 
'Excellency!' At that Celia started to laugh. All the colour drained 
from Count Gela's face, he shook off the lawyer's hand, his mouth 
opened, a black hole in a lump of horribly animated suet. The 
telephone started to ring. Margravini crossed to it and Celia turned 

281 



o watch his face and listen, noticing as she did so that Pia Agosti 
had vanished. Count Gela kneh and spread a handkerchief on the 
floor and began to pick up the shards of terracotta. Ceha Ustened to 
Margravini's end of the conversation with the hospital. Even before 
he had rung off she had gathered most of what he had to tell her: 
that, bad as he was, David was in no danger of dying; that she would 
be allowed to see him when he became conscious; that she was to 
telephone at noon on the next day. 

The last thing said to her that night, as Count Gela, carrying the 
pieces of his treasure in the handkerchief knotted into a little bag 
and Margravini, hovering over his patron as if ready to damp down 
any fresh outburst of fury, came from the advocate who turned 
at the door and, with politeness, said, 'You must expect trouble 
about this, of course, Signora Tillotson.' 



At Dr. Crispin's it was Mrs. Crispin who answered the door to 
Edward and, standing by the varnished buUrushes in the huge old 
ginger-jar which had been there, like the smell of cabbage, since 
Edward was eleven, said, 'Come in. He's just back from deliveting 
a baby that was born upside-down or something. He's eating a 
warmed-up lunch.' 

'I've just come from Italy. There was a telegram. How is she?' 

Crispin came out of the dining-room, chewing, holding a napkin, 
swallowing hard and saying, 'Heard your voice. Got bad news for 
you, old soldier.' Having known Crispin since he was a boy, Edward 
knew the conventions of the old man's language. The doctor had 
called him 'old soldier' : Aunt Sarah was dead. 

Edward heard bits of what the doctor was saying — 'Went to 
sleep' — 'thought she would be able to wait for you' — 'died in her 
sleep' — 'best way, really.' Edward was suffering an extraordinary 
sense of desolation. He wanted to howl. He said, accusing Crispin, 
accusing the world, 'But I didn't even know she was ill!' 

Presently, in the dining-room, Crispin, with his mouth full, said, 

'Inoperable cancer. Liver. Three weeks and ' he snapped his 

fingers and shrugged and Edward said, 'Christ! That again. I can't 
understand why she didn't write.' The doctor took an apple and 
bit it and Edward said, 'I should have come to see her.' 

282 



*No use feeling like that, old soldier.' 

*Did it — hurt much?* 

*We do what we can about that. Heroin, in this case.' 

Edward looked about the room in a kind of wildness and fear and 
said, 'Crispin, why in God's name didn't she write and tell me?' 
For a moment the doctor looked at him in silence. He sunk his 
long teeth into the pink-flushed white of apple flesh and chewed 
and said, 'I'll tell you, though it won't do you any good. It's a thing 
I've noticed. People are ashamed of it, of cancer. She was ashamed.' 

'Ashamed ?' 

'They are, you know. You'd better go and see Caitlin in Asher- 
sham while you're here. Will you want to see . . . her . . . ?' 

'No.' 

* * * 

Edward saw Caitlin, his uncle's solicitor, and did what had to be 
done. Caitlin was an unprosperous man with a chronic head-cold. 
He was of the same dismal communion as Walter Tillotson. Like 
many extreme Protestants he confused grace and wealth for when, 
shaking his head, he said the property 'wouldn't fetch much, Mr. 
Tillotson,' he spoke reproachfully, as of sin. 

'Is my uncle fit to come to the funeral?' 

'No, sir. The hand of the Lord is heavy upon him.* 

Edward reflected bitterly that that had happened which his Uncle 
Walter had feared : he had fallen into the hands of the living God. 

In Ashersham Edward hired a car and drove cross-country to 
his own house through steady, mizzling rain and the falling twi- 
light, with the lights of cars and fiUing-stations and advertisements 
broken into long-pointed stars by water-drops on the windscreen, 
and the wipers beating like a metronome. He was lost : he knew where 
he was on the map, but not why, not what he was doing. In the fug 
of that closed car on the greasy, light-reflecting roads, moving through 
the thickening grey night and the noise of countless machines 
dulled and compressed into one even low-pitched moan modu- 
lated by peaks of shattering percussion, he suffered nightmare, the 
nightmare of perceiving the earth as round indeed, for ever vanishing 
beyond horizons and leading back to where you w^re before, a 
surface wrapped round a mystery and wrapped by another, vast 
and appalling and without warmth or meaning or hope; and on the 
surface himself isolated in his iron box, creeping about, creeping 
about . . . 

A nightmare and a revolt: regretting the TL.4, he began to drive 

283 



fast, forcing a way past one idiotic rosary of lights into the pulsing 
glare of another, skidding the car into his proper lane whenever 
some fool as reckless as himself came at him out of the processional 
constellation he drove into; and not caring for the consequences, 
for if he killed himself and a dozen others there were plenty more 
where those came from, just as good, better perhaps, only they were 
all indistinguishable one from another at a hundred, two hundred 
yards; indistinguishable and so numerous that ones, tens, thou- 
sands, millions even, had no significance off the statisticians* lists. 

He got where he was going, an empty house unless you counted 
Benvenuta and her fellow-servant. Only the kitchen was comfor- 
table. Benvenuta followed him about, standing to catch his eye and, 
when he let her, recounting some part, beginning, middle, or end, 
of some happening in his absence, told in her fast, nerve-racking 
jargon until Edward, affected by her own dramatic style, threw up 
his hands and cried passionately, 'Basta! Enough!' 

*// signore e amalatoV 

'No, no, I'm not ill. Fetch me my letters and then go away. 
Cook me some supper. A dish of spaghetti or something. You can 
cook spaghetti, I suppose?' 

*Yaiss, yaiss! Spaghetti, vermicelli, macaroni, caneloni, tagliatelli, 
tagliatelli verdi. You like wiz chiz ?' 

'Si, conformaggio by all means!' 

She fetched the letters and he sat down to open them. Only one 
in the small pile held his attention. It was from Ivo Halloband who 
again wanted to see him but did not say why. Was Eileen Figgis 
wanting more money ? And was Edward, whenever he had a charge 
to bring against himself, to be let off with a fine imposed by her and 
her son? Abruptly, because Halloband's letter turned his mind to 
Eileen, abruptly and for the first time clearly, he heard his self, that 
burdensome parasite, claiming paternity, telling Celia that lie. Heard 
the lie in such a way that only then did he understand fully and 
shockingly what it was his self had done. Edward stood up as sud- 
denly as if he had heard an alarm sound, and walked the room know- 
ing the meaning of despair, his inside drained white and hollow, 
going over and over the round surface, but on his feet now, not in 
his wheeled box, so that the going round and round was slower, 
intolerably slow. And on his shoulders, clinging round his neck, so 
that he pulled at his tie and fumbled open the button of his shirt- 
collar, bulkier, heavier, horribly fatter with that monstrous lie, his 
self, getting a big boy now as Aunt Sarah used to say when he 

284 



did what he should not do; a big boy, an enormous boy, far too 
heavy for him to carry much farther. 

But Edward took him to the office in the morning and it was 
almost as if the clerks and typists could see the creature on his back. 
Was the strangeness in him, or in them ? Typists stood about in twos 
and threes and whispered. They looked at him strangely. He went 
into his own room and picked up the telephone and asked for Ivo 
Halloband's number. At the same time he rang for Miss Gresham. 
A girl he hardly knew, a junior from the typing pool, came in answer 
to that summons and Edward said, 'Where's Miss Gresham?' The 
girl looked at him, surprised. She said, 'Oh, she's away, sir.' The 
telephone rang. Edward asked for Halloband and, when the lawyer 
said 'Mornin' Mr. Tillotson,' asked if he could run down and see 
him. 

'About m'letter.? M'dear sir, it's my plice to come and see you.' 

'No. I have to see Caitlin anyway. My aunt ' 

*Ah! I was sorry to 'ear about that.' 

They made an appointment and Edward rang off. The girl was 
still waiting. Edward said, 'Mr. Powel in ?' 

'Oh, no, sir. Mr. Evans is here.' 

'Mr. Evans?' 

'Well, he had to come up, of course, sir.' 

Edward looked at her. He did not know what she was talking 
about. He was overwhelmingly reluctant to ask. And exasperated, 
irritated, by the fact that the office was not what it should have 
been, notja refuge, not familiar, not letting him fall back upon it 
and feel safe. What was Evans in London for? A conchologists' 
convention ? 

It occurred to Edward that none but subordinates knew that he 
was back. The curious atmosphere in the office, the cryptic quality 
in that typist child's answers to his questions, was, he knew, due 
to the fact that the clue, one word perhaps, or one phrase, was not 
in his hands. And, suddenly, he desperately did not want it, as the 
over-imaginative recruit desperately does not want to pull out the 
pin of the grenade he is learning to throw. Yet the only reason he 
had to feel that what, in due course, he must know would be like 
a grenade exploding in his hand, lay not in any mischief he had to 
expect from outside, but only in his own loud, inaudible, inward 
cry of 'Guilty!' 

He got up and walked swiftly through the general office and down 
the stairs. The commissionaire said, 'Going to the labs, Mr. Tillot- 

28s 



son, sir?' Edward nodded and the man said, 'Don't forget to con- 
gratulate Mr. Chase, sir, Doctor Chase, I should say.' By way of 
explanation he produced a copy of the current Electronics Engineer. 
Edward borrowed it and, in the taxi, read 2i precis of the thesis which, 
it seemed, had gained Chase a Ph.D. It was called Eddy Current 
behaviour at the terminals of co-axial cables. 

A Rolls-Royce almost filled the yard which was used for parking 
at the laboratory. Its chauffeur, a prim-looking man in a very 
flashy livery, was arguing with the cork-importer's van driver. 
Edward walked up the stairs and into the workshops and started 
across to his own laboratory, then stopped dead as he heard the 
unmistakable drawling bleat of the Prime Minister's voice, coming 
loud from that direction. But the great man had clearly gone mad: 
that persuasive and oratorical voice was raised to recite not the 
usual string of political platitudes, but an obscene poem by Robert 
Browning which, Edward recalled at once, had been shown to him 
in much- worn typescript and with third-form sniggers, by Chase; 
Doctor Chase. 

Edward shoved open his laboratory door and stood at gaze : there 
was a group of men round his Voice- Fabricator. Chase was com- 
pering the show; the visitor of honour was Reuben Lipschitz, his 
now white hair giving him a respectability so spurious that you 
wanted to grab hold of his hair and pull to make sure it was not 
a wig. Edward stood there by the door and nobody noticed him 
until the Prime Ministerial voice ceased from bleating Brown- 
ing's obstetrical rhymes. Then Edward said, 'Congratulations, 
Dr. Chase, on eddy currents in the terminals of co-axial cables.' 
They all turned and Lipschitz, lively and active as ever, bounced 
across to him like a little dog, clapped Edward's biceps between 
his hands, declaring that he had been right as usual, that they'd 
told him Edward was in Italy, but he knew, you couldn't fool hiniy 
that Edward would be there that morning, because Nicholas had 
told him. 'Nicholas?' 'The Tsar, boy, the Tsar! And I'll tell you a 
thing I'll be publishing soon as I'm ready, it wasn't at Sarkoye Selo 
they shot him, it was . . . well, never mind that now. Boy, have you 
got something here!' He turned to gesture towards the V-Fab. 
'Clever! I was a schlemil to let you go!' He went on like that, neither 
zeal nor breath impaired by age. Edward patted Chase's arm to 
make his congratulation less ironical. Chase said, 'Thanks. Was a time 
when eddy currents in a hundred miles of co-axial cable wouldn't' ve 
rated a Ph.D., but there it is, academic inflation . . .' Edward did 

286 



not attend to him, he was turning back to Lipschitz, saying, 'What 
d'you want it for, Reuben? Oh, yes, of course, you're CD. Tele- 
vision now, aren't you ? It'll come in handy for news faking.' Edward 
spoke without amenity but Lipschitz pretended to be amused. 
'Always a great kidder, this boy,' he explained to Chase and the two 
silent aides who accompanied him. Edward said to Chase, *I hope 
you've explained to Mr. Lipschitz that the V-Fab. is not for sale. 
Who got him up here anyway ? You ?' 

Reuben paid no apparent attention to this aside, he was busy 
explaining Edward to his two young men. 'Clever! Clever as a whole 
wilderness of monkeys!' Edward wondered if the little man knew 
he was quoting: Lipschitz had read nothing; but he had absorbed 
the whole culture through his skin. And despite his own ceaseless 
chatter, he contrived to hear Edward's question, for he whipped 
round and said. Towel got me up here! Any complaints? What's 
the matter with you ? Worried you won't get your cut ?' 

'The Voice- Fabricator,' Edward said, 'is not for sale, rent or 
licence,' and walked out of the room. Chase, following him, caught 
him up and said, 'Look, Ted, I'm sorry. Powel's orders.' Edward 
wanted to ask him what he knew about Powel's absence, old Evans's 
presence, and the mysterious uneasiness at the office. But he was 
still afraid, without knowing why he should be, of what he might 
hear. That is, if Chase knew anything, which was probably not the 
case. Edward took refuge in anger, saying, 'Powel's orders be 
damned! It was you dubbed Macmillan's voice. I recognized your 
taste. Doctor.' 

'What was I to do ? Tell Powel to go to hell ? I have to eat.' 

'What does Lipschitz want it for, anyway ?' 

'TV opera. You choose your cast for pretty faces and give them 
artificial voices. No big fees and no prima donnas in tantrums. 
That's what he told me.' 

'That's a lot of crap. You don't engage prima donnas for their 
voices but for their status as news. Lipschitz isn't to be trusted with 
a gadget like that. It's what my Uncle Walter, who was so pious 
he went bonkers and had to be shut up in a bin, used to call per- 
missive of evil.' 

'Since when did you care about that?' Chase said. Edward looked 
sullen and said, 'I shall dismantle it.' 

'AH right. But Lipschitz himself is permissive of evil and you 
can't dismantle him, more's the pity. The V-Fab. is no stroke of 
genius. It's no more than ingenious. Someone else will invent it. 

287 



*Let them,' Edward said. 'It won't be my responsibility if the top 
people get one more tool for humbugging the bottom people.* 

Chase looked at Edward in astonishment and said, 'What the 
hell's happening to you?' and Edward said, *I don't know. Look, 
I don't want to talk to Lipschitz. I'll leave you to throw him 
out.* 

* * * 

Edward went back to the office. In the reception hall a young man 
whose face was vaguely familiar was standing listening to a conver- 
sation between a stranger who looked like 'the Manager' in one of 
those wheedling advertisements published by banks, and Mr. 
Belsey, the firm's Secretary, whose face was dirty white. Edward 
passed them, then hesitated. Where had he seen that attentive 
young man's face before.'* Those very bright eyes — that almost 

terrier-like eagerness of bearing . As he passed through the 

door into the general office, he remembered. It was Gordon: 
Gordon what? But he could not recall the name, only that Miss 
Gresham had introduced the fellow one evening when he had 
called for her at the office, and said, with a giggle, 'He's a policeman, 
so you'd better be careful, Mr. Tillotson.' Standing irresolute 
half-way through the doorway, Edward suffered intimations of 
trouble, low in his stomach. Belsey's face — but it was inconceivable 
that that timid old man could ever, in his whole life, have done 
anything to interest the police. 

Edward was still hesitating when the door of Powel's room opened 
at the far end of the general office and Owen Evans came out fol- 
lowed by Green, chief of the firm's auditors, three paces behind 
him and reaching out a hand to him. Green's mouth was wide 
open — the sort of effect snooping photographers like to get — but 
Edward did not hear what he was saying. The old man was in a 
bad way, so bad that, indifferent or oblivious to the stares of clerks 
and typists, he was making an exhibition of himself: he had both 
hands up to his face, as if he had severe toothache ; the white hair 
was disordered to expose pink scalp; and the beard, too, that 
patriarchal ornament which doubtless imposed respect on even the 
sharpest opposition where conchologists gathered, now looked 
tattered and bedraggled. Something in the abandoned attitude of 
his despair reminded Edward of — was it Gielgud? — that night 
long ago at the theatre in Paris when he had been so moved by 
The Merchant of Venice. Evans's innocent despair and Shylock's 
guilty despair were indistinguishable. In gesture and expression 

288 



Evans was saying that the curse never fell on his nation till now, 
he never felt it till now. Edward went towards him saying, *Mr. 
Evans, sir, what is the . . .' and before he could go on the old man 
looked at him with tears welling from his inflamed old eyelids and 
said, 'Why didn't you warn me ?* and went past him and out. Ed- 
ward looked at Green, and the accountant shrugged, embarrassed: 
'Shock for the old boy.' 

Edward said, 'But what — I mean what's happened? I've been in 
Italy. What in God's name's going on here? Where's Powel?' 

Green stared at him, as if trying to penetrate through Edward's 
words to something which he seemed to suspect behind them. He 
said, 'You'd better come back in here with me.' 

Powel was standing by one of the windows and looking out at 
the rain. Edward said, 'They told me you weren't here,' and, 
without turning round, Powel said, *I wasn't. Why aren't you in 
Italy?' 

'My aunt died.' 

'Oh.' 

A big drop of rain, brown with its heavy charge of dirt, was run- 
ning greasily down the outside of the pane and Powel was following 
it, childishly, with one finger-tip. But he suddenly spun round to 
face the room; his face was yellow and his hair a little out of set. 
He said, 'Perhaps you'll explain why you let that snooping bitch 
Gresham see the cheque we sent Das ?' 

'I didn't let her see it. She simply saw it when I opened your note. 
Anyway, why shouldn't she?' 

'You can't be such a bloody fool as not to know that.' 

Edward looked at Green. Green said, 'This isn't my part of the 
trouble, but I know the facts. Apparently this Miss Gresham thought 
the transaction odd enough to mention to her fiance who, I under- 
stand, is an officer of the Metropolitan Police ' 

'The treacherous sow was ' Powel began. Green interrupted 

him, 'Let's not use the big words, 'Zeke. We're in business. The 
girl was doing the best she could for her future husband — like you 
and me and Tillotson, thinking of number one. No doubt the young 
man is ambitious.' 

'Get on with it,' Edward said. 

'This policeman took it on himself to cable to India about a com- 
pany in which, as Powel tells me, he and you believed yourselves 
to be investing this twenty thousand.' 

'That's Das's story — and mine,' Powel said: his over-bite was 

289 



noticeable, the teeth, not so white as his skin, were resting on the 
indrawn lower lip. 

'The company,' Green said, *does not exist.' 

Edward had known that. Slumped in his chair and feeling drained, 
bloodless below the waist, he said, *I signed that cheque. What's our 
position?' Green said, curtly, 'I'm not a lawyer.' Powel went to his 
desk, scuffled among some papers, and picked up a letter. Edward 
recognized the letter-head as that of the firm's lawyers. Powel said, 
'This is from old Balham,' and read aloud in a manner which 
attempted to mock the substance of his reading: *By the Prevention 
of Corruption Act, 1906, it is a misdemeanour punishable with 
two years' imprisonment and/or a fine of £s^o to offer to an agent, 
or for an agent to accept or attempt to obtain, any gift or consider- 
ation as an inducement to do or forbear to do anything in relation 
to his principal's affairs or business, or for showing or forbearing 
to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to his prin- 
cipal's affairs or business. An "agent" includes any person employed 
by or acting for another. It is similarly punishable knowingly to 
give to any agent, or for an agent knowingly to use, any receipt, 
account or other document in respect of which the principal is 
interested, and which contains any statement which is false in any 
material particular and which is intended to mislead the principal.* 

When he had finished reading Powel threw the letter on the desk, 
went to the cupboard where he kept his hat and coat and said, 'We've 
done for today, I suppose.' 

'Tillotson has a right to know the whole story,' Green said and 
with an unindulgent look at Edward, 'unless he knows it already.' 
*I don't,' Edward said. Powel said, 'To hell with Tillotson. I'm all 
in.' 

Green ignored that and started talking. 'The disclosure of the 
facts to the police has brought them in here to examine the books. 
They have uncovered something else, something much worse ' 

'Rubbish!' Powel said. Green again ignored him and started 
to explain what the detectives had uncovered. Edward had the ut- 
most difficulty in following the accountant's explanation but none 
in understanding why he had suspected nothing although he had, 
apparently, signed more than half the papers in question himself. 
It was borne in on him that the difference between what was and 
what was not fraudulent in the manipulation of large sums, was 
merely conventional. Yet he did begin to understand, and to realize 
what he had been doing when — making a stale little joke of his own 

290 



helplessness — he signed whatever the old, grey-faced company 
Secretary, who now emerged as playing jackal to Powel's lion, had 
told him to sign. As Green's explanation continued, Edward fixed 
his eyes on Powel who was pacing the room, chin down on the knot 
of his tie and showing, for the first time, the slack folds of advancing 
age. Edward interrupted once, in a sort of protest at the outrageous- 
ness of what Green's calm voice was saying, 'But it's fantastic! 
You can't raise money on non-existent goods.' 

'Existent on paper, Tillotson. Existent in the books and on the 
balance sheet. I don't say that Barrowby at the bank hasn't been 
damned careless. In theory there should have been an inspection 
of the property before the money was advanced. On the other hand, 
the firm's credit has always been excellent, there had been a dozen 
similar transactions, Barrowby had no reason to worry. After all, 
even we didn't realize. You can't be more shocked and surprised 
than I was.' 

'Quarter of a million,' Edward said, 'advanced against a figment 
of Powel's imagination!' 

Green went on with his explanations until Edward interrupted 
to say to Powel, 'Why didn't you skip out? I wonder you didn't.' 
Powel did not resent that, but stopped walking about and stood 
still to look down at Edward. There was a kind of wicked ifobility 
in his white-faced arrogance when he said, 'You fool! You don't 
understand a thing about it. One more month and we'd have been 
in the clear. And nobody any the wiser. And you and Evans would 
have pocketed your share of the proceeds without any questions.' 

Edward looked at Green, who nodded and said, 'It's true. As 
I've told you, the money went to buy shares in Goshawk Products 
and in Volta Pellegrini. There's no doubt that their merger will go 
through. The gamble was a perfectly sound one.' 

'So this catastrophe is just bad luck, eh?' Edward said, and, 'Why 
hasn't 'Zeke — why haven't we been arrested?' 

'You will be when the police are ready. Powel's being watched 
and so, no doubt, are you.' 

What had Powel wanted all that money for ? Edward watched him 
getting his hat, gloves and umbrella from the cupboard. There was 
a small looking-glass on the inside of the cupboard door and Powel 
paused to look in it, took a comb from his pocket and passed it 
through his hair. Then he walked out of the room. But he stuck 
his head back through the doorway to say, 'You'll have to find your 
own way out, Ed. I know mine.' 

291 



Edward said to Green, *Who's really the injured party, Green ?' 

'The Law.' 

'Let's be what they call realistic' 

'As far as I can see, nobody will suffer actual loss.* 

Edward was still wondering what Powel had wanted the money 
for: he had not taken him for a man who wanted to live magnifi- 
cently, and had, rather, thought that he had in him a certain mode- 
ration, a certain carefulness, as if keeping a firm hand on that potential 
but never actual loucheness which Edward, or rather Celia, had 
recognized in him and sometimes been afraid of. Perhaps Powel 
had wanted to feel much taller, much stronger, and therefore much 
safer. 

There seemed something absurd in keeping his appointment with 
Halloband after that, as there was outrage in the indifferent beauty 
of the following day, the day of his Aunt Sarah's funeral. He had not 
slept ; he had spent the night reading the memorandum and studying 
the figures Green's people had prepared for him; and writing to 
Celia. In the train to Ashersham he suffered a desolating sense of 
unreality, of being quite literally at a loss. 

The County Hotel was not what it had been. The bar, once 
sombre in brown Lincrusta, now had three different kinds of light- 
coloured wallpapers. The new barmaid was forty-odd pounds lighter 
than the old one but had the same bust measurement. There had 
formerly been tables in pews, and Edward had counted on one for 
privacy. They had gone, as if the highest Anglicanism had, belatedly, 
spread from churches to pubs. Halloband, portly, his clothes rich 
but not gaudy, came in a few minutes after him, and cancelling, 
with Edward's permission, the whisky and soda Edward had or- 
dered, told the girl to 'fetch up a bottle of yer eighty-four Madeira, 
m'dear,' in such a tone as almost restored the three stone of flesh 
and the high colour of her predecessor. He talked to Edward of the 
weather and of his annual day's shooting at Draxter: 'The marquess 
always invites me, as he did me father before me, God rest his soul. 
But it ain't what it was, Mr. Tillotson. Only two keepers kept and 
no grite wight o' gime.' 

He told Edvvard the bag as they sat in a corner at their bottle, 
and such was the power of his integrity that it seemed to transform 
the Formica table-top into a decent piece of mahogany. From 
pheasants he passed to business. 

'Now about Miss Figgis. You know, Mr. Tillotson, I admire 

292 



that young woman. The boy's a limb of Satan but she'll mike a 
man of him.' 

'What does she want this time?' 

'She has a chance to emigrate with the lad to Austrilia. Yes, sir, 
to the very antipodes! Kangaroos, eucalyptus trees, bunyips . . . 
moreover, as a wife, sir.' 

'She wants to marry?' 

'Has a chance to, at least. Fella's a tractor-driver. Might be 
eight, ten years younger than she is, and asks no questions about 
how she cime by the little bye-blow. The sort of man, sir, that 
opens his mouth three times a day, to put food in. The case stands 
thus, that they're short of what they need by four hundred pounds.' 

Edward said, 'I'm short of what I'm going to need by a lot more 
than that.' 

They had drunk half the bottle of that sweet and ponderous wine. 
Halloband said, 'Suppose we finish this with a chump chop and 
a hiked potato, sir?' Edward agreed and they went into the coffee- 
room, but it was called the dining-room now. The chop and the 
potatoes were ordered, and having ascertained that there was a 
Stilton cheese in the house, Halloband reminded the waiter that he 
had that morning ordered that a bottle of La Mission Haut Brion 
be brought up from the cellar. 'It's incredible, sir, but they 'ave 
some of the twenty-one.' It was all the same to Edward, but he 
looked as impressed as he could. As they waited to be served, 
Halloband said, 'Allow me to seye that I should understand if, in 
the circumstances, you felt unible to put yer 'and quite so deep in 
yer pocket. At the same time ' 

The lawyer hesitated and it was manifest that he was ill at ease. 
Edward was very surprised for he had never seen the man's assurance 
fail him before. 'At the same time ?' he prompted. 

'I am in a difficulty, sir. I don't like me mission, Mr. Tillotson. 
Me client's instructions force me into a role, sir, that I'm not accus- 
tomed to pl'ying.' 

'Out with it, man.' 

Halloband swallowed the last of the Madeira and, keeping his 
eyes on his glass as he returned it to the table, said, 'Me client tells 

me that you and she ' Edward interrupted, 'Thai intimacy 

has taken place — isn't that your lawyers' phrase for it ?' 

Without commenting on that at all Halloband said, 'This project 
of marriage and emigration 'as 'ad a surprisin' effect on the young 
woman's character, sir.' 

293 



*Is there a threat lurking in all this evasion, Mr. Halloband?* 

Halloband cut off a large piece of chop and bolted it; washed it 
down with claret and said, 'If you'll believe me, Mr. Tillotson, I'm 
standing between yourself — or shall we say Mrs. Tillotson ? — 
and me client's determination, to which, sir, she gives the good 
countenance of righteousness — not to spoil 'er future for want of 
four 'undred pound.' 

'You mean Eileen will go to my wife if I don't cough up ? I wonder 
she should threaten me. God knows I've been generous to her.' 

'She complains, sir, that you take too much for granted. I only 
agreed to 'andle this because — well, sir, for your sike, not 'ers. She 
wouldn't be averse to marry you, I fancy: certainly it rankles that 
you never suggested it.' 

'So she wanted to force a divorce on me.' 

'She was cipable of it, Mr. Tillotson. You wouldn't want that ?* 

'No.' 

'You're right, sir. As I see it, we must err in the flesh but we're 
not obliged to publish the fact. I'll tell you what divorce is, Mr. 
Tillotson: damned vulgar.' 

'I'll pay you the four hundred, of course.' 

Four hundred more or less was not going to make much difference 
to Celia if he spent the next two or three years in prison. As if 
ashamed of his victory Mr. Halloband said, 'Austrilia is a long way. 
You may be pretty sure this is the last time.' 

'She will not, I hope, expect the allowance continued?' 

'God bless me soul, no! A married woman. I should not have 
consented to put forward me proposition excepting by wiy of a 
composition.' 

This behaviour on the part of Eileen Figgis seriously eroded 
such confidence as Edward had in his power over his self and which 
had derived from the feeling that towards her, at least, he had 
always behaved selflessly. He had not, he told himself bitterly, 
been generously helping a friend of his youth ; he had simply been 
under-paying a whore. 



That luncheon with Halloband was Edward's last touch for a long 
time with anything he recognized as reality. He passed, as one 

294 



learning a foreign language without grammar, into a wonderland: 
the back-to-front, upside-down, inside-out world of Powel's 
manipulation. 

There was a day, one of many, when with Green and a fraud- 
squad detective and two of Green's clerks, after hours of concen- 
tration on figures and on what these men called explanations, Ed- 
ward was suddenly attacked by a conviction that either they were 
mad or he was. With perfectly serious faces they discussed, as a 
commonplace, as acceptable, financial conduct which, by those 
reasonable standards established for the purposes of ordinary 
intellectual, or for that matter practical, intercourse, was either 
hilariously funny, or tragically insane, depending on your point of 
view. He had had days and nights of this and of making decisions 
in a world whose tongue and manners were nonsensical, as if he 
had been embarked as captain on some latter-day cruise in pursuit 
of the Snark, a Snark which invariably turned out to be a Boojum. 
He lost control of himself and jumped to his feet and shouted, 'The 
whole bloody system's mad. Mad and dangerous! Why pick on 
'Zeke Powel ? What's he done that the others haven't done ? Why 
not arrest Green, here, or Barrowby, or the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury?' 

He walked out of the room and went out and to the laboratories, 
and spent two hours on the work he had in hand : he was creating a 
perfectly sung version, on tape, of // Trovatore. He finished some 
calculations and then played back the last piece of finished work. 
He sat on his stool and heard the divinely beautiful voice he had 
made sing, 

'Home to our mountains, 
Let us return now' 

No human throat had produced those ravishing sounds, that un- 
bearably moving pathos; behind it lay calculations and the work 
of some complex machinery. But tears came into his eyes and 
because of them he was more confused than ever. He began to see 
himself and above all Powel as victims of a cruel and obscure 
tyranny, as forbidden to return to their mountains. He made up 
his mind to go and see Powel that night, and after a hasty meal at 
the hotel in Kensington where he had taken a room, Edward walked 
to Powel's flat, which was the whole top floor of a new building in 
Knightsbridge. 

For some reason the door of the flat was open and, having rung 

295 



the bell, Edward went into the hall, a long corridor with the doors 
of all the rooms opening into it. Nobody came and Edward stood 
irresolute. In the room at the far end of the corridor, which was the 
kitchen, Powel's Austrian cook was listening to a radio programme 
of Lieder. The tenor voice was magnificent, and for a moment Ed- 
ward stood and listened, moved by the quality of the voice as the 
singer released its full power, articulating every word perfectly, 

Unsere Liehe sie trennet sich nichty the heart-cry reached him, 
throbbingly, in that carpeted and silent corridor, 

Fest ist der Stahly und das Eisen gar sehr^ 

Unsere Liebe wer wandelt sie urn. 

He waited for the end of the song. As he moved back towards the 
front door, thinking that the bell might be heard now that the 
singing had stopped, Edward felt purified ; he promised himself to 
start going to concerts again as, taking a cigarette, one promises 
oneself to stop smoking. Still nobody came; he walked along the 
corridor and now heard piano music coming from the kitchen. 
He recognized Chopin's Fantasia Impromptu. He went back to 
the door of what he knew to be the drawing-room and opened it, 
saying, Towel? Are you there, 'Zeke?' He went in. 

The only light came from a heavily shaded standard. The log 
fire in the steel grate had died down into a mass of glowing ash, the 
glow pulsating like a failing heart. Powel sat very still in one of the 
arm-chairs pulled up to the fire. It occurred to Edward that he was 
asleep and he walked round to look into his face. Powel's wide- 
open eyes shocked him, for he was obviously not awake. The moment 
Edward put a hand on Powel's shoulder he knew he was dead, and 
that it was futile to shake him, as he frantically did; and to call on 
him, * 'Zeke! 'Zeke! Powel! Wake up man!' as frightened as if he not 
only felt guilty of Powel's death, but was guilty of it. In his horror, 
Edward handled the body roughly and, suddenly pressing too 
heavily against his hand, the massive thing tumbled forward and 
toppled sideways, crashing into the hearth. 

Edward backed away as if the dead Powel had set about him. 
There must have been a small, hot cinder in the hearth, for there 
was the ammoniac smell of burning hair. At the door Edward 
switched on more light, then went out into the hall to the telephone. 
He did not know their doctor's name. He dialled three nines, and 
a male voice said, 'Emergency fine, do you want police, fire, or 
ambulance ?' 'Doctor,' Edward said, and gave the address loud and 
clear and hung up. He walked down the long corridor to the kitchen, 

296 



Brahms's Rhapsody in G Minor growing louder as he went. He 
went straight to the kitchen radio and switched it off. The cook, 
a large woman with coils of blonde hair like new manilla cable, was 
sitting at the kitchen table. She stood up and opened her mouth 
and Edward said, 'How long's Mr. Powel been sitting in there?* 
'Since lonch,' she said and, *Vy you . . .* 

'Mr. Powel is ill,' he said. 

'lUPHevas. . .' 

'Mr. Powel is dead.' 

She sat down heavily. Edward left her calling on God in German, 
and went back to Powel, and waited, resenting Powel's desertion. 

They found the empty sodium amytal phial in his jacket pocket. 
He had eaten all of them. 

sN 4( ^ 

Edward was thinking of trying to telephone Celia from the office 
late the following afternoon, when she walked into it unannounced, 
smiling palely. He was so startled that he said, 'You might have let 
me know you were on the way.' 

'Everything has been happening so fast,' she said. It was not an 
apology. 

'Thank God you're here, anyway.' He stood up and went towards 
her. As if absently she drifted across the room, away from him. 
Edward went back to his chair. Celia sat in the clients' chair, by the 
window, and said, 'What's happening?' 

'You know Powel made away with himself?' 

'I saw it in the papers. One of them said the police might be 
making another arrest.' 

'Me.' 

'But why?' 

'Jointly responsible. They have a score of signatures of mine to 
prove it. A perfectly good case.' 

Celia said nothing for a while : twice she began to speak and thought 
better of it and at last said, wearily, 'I'm sorry.' 

Her mind was not on his troubles, nor, as presently appeared, 
on her own. 'You don't ask about David,' she said. 

'I gathered from your letter that he was recovering.' 

'I don't mean that. You're not the only one who's in trouble 
with the police.' 

'They're pressing the charge ?' 

'Hard. I've been busy among the Sestis and Clementis and the 
whole scabrous, sleazy crew. I could stop the whole thing tomorrow 

297 



and bring David home in a flying ambulance. It's just as Gela and 
his shyster said, a matter of money. And what isn't in our world ?' 

There was a singular inwardness in Celia's manner: it had been 
in the letter which he had received from her ; he had seen something 
of the sort in her father during the long ordeal of his dying ; the still 
attentiveness of a predator watching prey, that attentiveness given 
to something which was happening inside him but against his will. 

'There's nothing for you to do,' Edward said, *but give up. I 
know how far you've gone beyond your own inclination in the help 
you've given him already.' And then, although he was certain 
that he had sacrificed his right to her help, he said, with uneasy 
facetiousness, 'I could do with a spot of moral support myself.' 

She looked at him almost absently and said, 'You've never needed 
my help.' 

That had been his sin as it had been Mr. Woodreeve's, but he 
denied it and went on, 'And what's happened to you? There's 
something.' 

She gave him a quick, furtive, almost guilty look and then turned 
her eyes to the window and said, *I was sitting with him in the 
hospital one afternoon. David was asleep, or dozing. The room was 
darkened but the sun was coming through the curtains and drawing 
a line of light on the wall above his head. I was thinking of leaving 
him. I stood up, looking down at him, and suddenly saw that his 
eyes were wide open and full of stark terror. It was inexpressibly 
shocking. I was going to ask him what he was afraid of and then 
I saw that he wasn't awake. The muscles round his mouth were 
twitching and I realized that he was trying to talk and couldn't, 
as if he were paralysed. Then he began to make inarticulate sounds, 
only they weren't quite inarticulate and they rose to a kind of awful 
shouting, all vowels, full of horror, yet when I realized what he was 
trying to say it was only "Wake me up ! For God's sake wake me up !" 
I took him by the shoulder and said, "Wake up David" or something 
of the kind ... I had a sense of extreme urgency as if something 
dreadful would happen to him if I could not wake him at once. He 
came to himself with a violent start and lay there panting and sort 
of sobbing until he saw me, saw my face, and then he said he was 
sorry, he'd been having a nightmare. He said he had them often, 
several times a month, and always the same, he was in a very small 
room with no door or windows, a closed box and there was something 
in it with him, he could never see it because whichever way he 
turned it was always behind him, and anyway he was sure that it 

298 



had no form. He called it the essence of terror. I was inclined to 
shrug it off, only that his face, his manner ... I said something about 
a physical stimulation of the gland that puts something into the 
bloodstream when we're frightened probably producing the symp- 
toms of fear when there was nothing to be afraid of. He would not 
have that, he said he knew there was something in the box with him 
and he could not not want to see it, but if he ever did, that would 
be the moment of his death. All that seemed to me, despite the state 
he was in, quite childish, but then he said a dreadful thing, he said, 
"Sometimes I think the thing in there with me is myself".' 

Celia had become very disturbed as she talked : she had risen and 
was walking about the room and she was very pale. Edward said, 
'Well, go on.' She sat down again and looked at him with a little 
frown and said, 'When David said that, Edward, a horrible thing 
happened to me. At first a sort of sharp uneasiness like a premonition 
of severe pain; then I seemed to be involved in David's terror; 
but it wasn't that, there came a cloud of dark terror over my mind 
and deep misery which could only be absolutely personal. It was 
inexplicable until, almost at once, I had the key. It was something 
that had happened to me when I was a little girl and which I had 
utterly forgotten, would. have denied if anyone else could have told 
me that it had happened. Only David's image of fear as himself 
could have re-created it. I was alone in the house with my father, I 
don't know how old I was, but probably five or six. I suppose I 
had been naughty, though I can't remember what I had done. He 
took me upstairs, I can remember that I was howling all the time, and 
shut me in the tiny cupboard of a room we called the box-room, a 
place about six by four with nothing whatever in it. It would have 
been quite dark but for a dirty fanlight over the door, which let 
in a sort of brown twilight from the landing. There'd been a small 
window but the glass was cracked and it let in water, and the land- 
lord had had it covered by nailing a sheet of roofing-felt over the 
outside, which made the window into a kind of dim looking-glass. 
I sat on the floor, crying. Then ... I don't know if he did it on pur- 
pose or if he'd forgotten ... I heard father go out and slam the 
door. I became very frightened, the ordinary fright of a small child 
locked in a room in an empty house and terrified at the idea of being 
forgotten, perhaps for ever. Then that window began to worry me. 
When I looked up at it I could see a faint image looking down at me. 
At first I was brave and made faces at it, but the faces it made back 
at me began to terrify me because — it is ridiculous enough now but 

299 



-I can distinctly remember not being absolutely 
sure which of us had started it. I tried to get the door open and 
when, of course, I couldn't, I began to scream and beat at it. I 
knew, of course, that when I was not looking into the mirror, I 
mean the window, there was nobody there, yet what was so terri- 
fying was that the image present to my mind as I beat and clawed 
at the door was not that of my back, but still of my face. By the time 
my mother found me an hour later I had made my hands bleed and 
was half out of my mind . . .' 

This long account which Celia gave him caused Edward pain, 
even that curious physical pain in the loins. He found that hour or 
two of extreme wretchedness long ago in Celia's childhood, now 
almost unbearable; yet how often had he not inflicted suffering on 
her himself? He had nothing to say and he still did not dare go to 
her as if there were no ill-feeling between them. Presently Celia 
said, 'David mustn't go to prison, Edward. I was wrong.' 

Inexplicably to himself at the time Edward's feeling when Celia 
said this was one of envy, but all he said was, *We can try to get the 
money from his father, though David thinks it's hopeless.' To his 
surprise Celia said that she had already done so. *He*s over eighty, 
as straight and stiff as a board and a kind of spuriously noble manner. 
I think he's a moral confidence trickster. He listened to me without 
batting an eyelid and with his eyes perfectly still, fixed on my face. 
When I had no more to say the old man stood up and looked down 
on me and without raising his voice said, "My son, Mrs. Tillotson, 
is a pervert and a sodomite. He has spoilt his own life, killed his 
mother and embittered my old age. I will do no more, and certainly 
I will not give a shilling to evade a law I thoroughly approve." I 
saw he meant it, that he hates his son. It was — revolting. I knew I'd 
been wasting my breath. I offered to pay him back over ten years 
if he'd lend me the money — he gives fifty thousand a year to charity. 
He rang for his secretary and had me shown out.* 

Celia stood up and crossed the room and sat in another chair, 
just to be moving. Edward now had no doubt of her purpose and 
said, *So you want me to get the money.' 

Tes.' 

*I suppose you realize the position?' 

*0f course I do. David won't survive six months in an Italian 
prison, he's already back where he was that time I first met him, in 
Wales. He'll get at least two years.' 

*Yes. Actually, Celia, I meant my position.* 

300 



'You can get five thousand, Edward.' 

It seemed to him an extraordinary statement. It was not, of course; 
for years he had been giving her the impression from which her 
confidence derived and if she chose to ignore the fact that she had 
long since come to distrust that impression, that was her right. 
For a moment Edward stared at her and her face became hostile 
and sullen and she said, 'You can do wonders if you want to, or so 
I've always been told. Even beget sons.' 

*Celia,' Edward said, with that feeling of despair which is like an 
anguish in the heart, *you know I was lying, you know it.' 

'Can you get the money?' she said. 

'Are you going to stay at the house ?' 

'No. Where are you staying?' 

He told her. She said she would take a room there and, 'I'd 
better go now.' Edward said nothing until Celia was at the door, and 
then he said, 'There's one thing. I'll act quickly, but they may 
arrest me even sooner.' 

She came two steps back into the room at that and said, 'You're 
not serious ?' 

'All right, I'm not serious.' 

With sudden passion and the blood mounting to her face, she 
said, 'How am I to know? You've bluffed me so often I . . .' To stop 
her Edward shouted at her, 'Don't say any more!' He was in a kind 
of panic, as if he thought her about to say something which would 
be a mortal danger to him. For a moment they looked at each other 
in silence. She said, 'If it were for myself, if David weren't in such . . .' 

'Yes, all right, forget it. Leave me alone, Celia.' 

When she had done so, he knew at once what he would do. The 
house was on mortgage. He owned nothing; he never had owned 
anything. There was the Voice- Fabricator, though. He had made it, 
such as it was, an addition to the manifold instruments of fraud; 
it was his. In an obscure revolt against all he had been and done in 
his life, he had wanted to destroy it, to avoid contributing any more 
to the accumulation of deceitful inhumanities, the tools which made 
our particular brand of mid-twentieth-century petty evil so much 
easier to do. Now he told himself that this was grossly sentimental ; 
there was even something ridiculous about the very idea ; you could 
accomplish nothing but what the community you were born into 
called out of you. That, at all events, was his excuse for making an 
appointment to see Reuben Lipschitz the next day. 
:¥ * * 

301 



Edward jumped off the bus outside his hotel and went up to Celia's 
room. He found her sitting in a tub chair by the gas fire, doing a 
crossword puzzle. She looked up and said he had been a long time. 

'Reuben talks,' he said, and gave her the envelope, telling her to 
take it to the man in Turin whose name and address were on it. 
He would give her the money in lire. 'You'll have to go by train and 
break your journey, but you'd never have smuggled five thousand 
pounds in notes through the Customs.' 

She put the envelope into her bag, saying, *I suppose it will be 
ail right.' 

*I never knew anything Reuben arranged to come unstuck.' 

She said nothing to that, but kept looking at him oddly, and then, 
almost in embarrassment, away again ; and at last she said, 'Edward, 
there are two men waiting for you downstairs. Did you know ?' 

'I didn't,' he said, and felt himself lose colour, 'but I'm not sur- 
prised. I wonder they didn't follow me up.' 

'I asked them to give us fifteen minutes. They seem to trust you 
not to run away.' 

'Where would I run to? Stallybrass, that's the inspector, knows 
me. He calls me "you people". "You people" this, and "You 
people" that. It expresses contempt with courtesy. Marx never 
invented a category of lumpenbourgeois, but that's what Stally- 
brass means.' The gas fire hissed and the air was faintly tainted. 
Celia sat on the bed and said, 'I hadn't . . . fully reahzed. So much 
that happened to you always had ... a sort of vagueness. This 
isn't vague. Edward, when I've finished this business and when 
you've . . . finished yours . . . you do understand that the constraint 
I'm under isn't much less than on you ... ? . . .* 

He nodded. 

*. . . what I mean is, what are you going to do, then?' 

'I don't know,* he said, 'and I don't care.* 

'Not very helpful,' she said, gently. 

'One thing I know,' he said, 'if I have the heart to do anything 
I'm going back where I fit. There are two kinds of people now, top 
people, surface people, up and up and up people, jet people. Lunik 
people, the big expense account boys doing it all on the firm like 
Khrushchev, only they can't all be that big. And the others, the rest of 
US, the undergrounders whose instinct is to seek littleness and dark- 
ness, the small, crowded room with drawn curtains and the red 
glow of the electric fire, like womb-light, and blue glow like moon- 
light from the television screen, and the shadow show on the 

302 



screen like the shadow show on the wall of the cave which men 
took for reality in . . .' 

'In bloody old Plato,' Celia said. 'That pansy!' She added, 'What's 
all this add up to ?' 

'God knows. Say a radio and television shop, quick service and 
repairs a speciality, in one of those new towns which have houses 
with a sort of thin look, like cardboard, and two rows of double 
pink flowering cherry not more than six feet tall . . .' 

He had spoken bitterly, but to his surprise she said, 'All right, 
call it that, but will you have the means even for that ?' 

He shrugged, 'If I meant it, I suppose Aunt Sarah's legacy 
would start me. And given time I can probably compound my FB 
royalties.' 

Silence again and then she said, 'Well, then, let's do that.' He 
had been pacing the little room and had his back to her when she 
spoke. He spun on his heel and stared at her and felt his face flushing. 
'Us? Why you?' 

'It's very bad for you to be sorry for yourself. I can make sure 
it won't be like that. Edward, do you really have to ask why me ?' 

He did not, of course. He knew that just as her pains and Angst 
made their way into him, so did his into her. She had a concern to 
cherish him if only it would enable her to shed herself. She could 
do him that priceless service, too — give him someone to forgive. 

There was a sharp rap on the door. They both lost colour and 
looked at each other in sudden despair. Celia said, 'Oh God, 
Edward . . .' He said, absurdly, 'Oh, well, never mind . . .' and 
called out 'Come in!' Stallybrass, followed by another man in plain 
clothes, started talking as soon as he had the door shut behind 
them. 'I'm sorry about this, Mr. Tillotson . . .' this very briskly. 
'But the fact is . . .' 

'That you have a warrant for my arrest,' Edward said, because 
it was not so bad if he said it for him, 'and anything I say may 
be used in evidence.' And, to Celia, using for the last time the 
jargon of the world he was being kicked out of, 'Not to worry.' 



8 

He would not have thought it possible to take so little interest in 
his own trial. His inclination had been to plead guilty, explain 



303 



briefly what had happened to get him into that court, and let judge 
and jury do their worst. He wanted the thing over quickly so that 
he could stop being looked at. He had not consulted or employed 
Ivo Halloband : that lawyer belonged to the past which was already 
shadowy ; the present misery was alone substantial. 

Edward's solicitor was chosen by Reuben Lipschitz: he was a 
clever, elegant cynic, always cheerful. Had it been only the law, 
and not himself, that Edward suffered for having offended, this 
lawyer would have been very good for him; he seemed to regard 
the law as a kind of booby trap which his client had been unlucky 
enough to fall into. He insisted on instructing an overpaid Q.C., 
and when Edward said that mercy, let alone justice, was too damned 
dear at the price of this pleader's monstrous fees, which were 
vastly beyond his means, the solicitor astonished him by saying 
that he had seen old Mr. Evans and that the firm would pay for 
Edward's defence. Edward was never so surprised in his life and 
he wanted to know why, but all the lawyer could ever get from 
Evans was a muttered explanation that Edward Tillotson had served 
the firm well. The lawyer's explanation was that Evans knew that 
if Edward were guilty, then so was he. Edward was not allowed to 
plead guilty, of course. 'All you could reasonably plead guilty to,' 
the lawyer said, 'would be damned carelessness; and that isn't 
what you're charged with.' 

The preoccupation which, through the two days of the case 
and during the following week, saved Edward from half the anguish 
of feeling himself started at, judged a fool to the point of crime, and 
publicly humiliated by condemnation, was given him, unwittingly, 
by the kindness of an Old Bailey warder. On the first day, after he 
had been fetched from his cell, there was a delay before they could 
go into court. And seeing the accused dejected almost to tears, this 
man, himself a victim for his face was hideously deformed by an 
old war-wound, gave him the paper to look at. 

It was the Daily Sketchy and after Edward had seen the front 
page and jumped to his feet with an exclamation as if he were in 
sudden intolerable pain, his first idea was that the warder had played 
a viciously cruel joke on him. The news on that page was conveyed 
by a huge photograph of Celia, in itself an act of sadism, for she 
had been caught in the act of talking with some kind of passionate 
feeling, which might have been anger or grief or love: her mouth 
was wide open and her face ravaged by lines of distress. There were 
two Italian policemen in the background. The headline was Naples 

304 



POLICE SEIZE ENGLISH WIFE and the sub-headline celia tillotson 
CHARGED. The text, in very large type, was short. Edward had read, 
Celia^ attractive Paris-dressed wife of Edward Tillotson, wealthy 
business-man inventor whose trial at the Old Bailey on a charge of . . . 
when the paper was taken out of his hands and the warder, referring 
to a stir which Edward had hardly noticed, said, 'That's for us.* 
Edward said. Tor Christ's sake let me finish, that's my wife.' The 
warder said they could not keep the court waiting and as Edward 
either could or would not move, he and another man caught hold 
of him. He did not resist; he did not know exactly what was hap- 
pening. He felt as if he had been in a serious accident. He was 
pushed up some stairs and suddenly, hideously, emerged like a 
pantomime devil into the focus point of hundreds of stares. It must 
have been obvious that he was either ill or distracted, for when a 
wigged and gowned person below the bench rose and addressed 
him, the judge, an old man with a curiously naked-looking face, 
held up a hand and the clerk fell silent. The judge then said, Ts 
the accused unwell?' For a moment Edward simply stared at him, 
unable to bring his mind to bear. Finally, he said, 'No, sir, my lord 
. . . I . . .' 

'Try and pull yourself together,' the old man said, neither kindly 
nor unkindly, as if telling a cog to go round and round more evenly. 

The clerk went on with his reading. Edward did not hear what he 
was saying. It must, of course, be for smashing Gela's Demeter 
that she had been arrested. But what had they done with her, 
where was she, what was happening, had she been tried, was she 
in prison, what sort of punishment did Italian courts inflict for 
what she had done ... ? . . . A voice stopped talking. There was a 
silence. Edward heard his advocate say, 'My client wishes to plead 
not guilty, m'lud,' and it suddenly and incongruously came into 
Edward's head that that was about two guineas' worth of pleading. 
Edward said, 'Guilty — I mean, not guilty.' The judge, without 
looking up from his papers, said, 'We should be grateful for the 
accused's attention. Does he mean guilty or not guilty?' 'Not guilty,' 
Edward said. He made an effort to put Celia's predicament out of 
his mind. He looked hard at the jury but saw only that they had the 
usual number of limbs and features, twenty-four eyes, arms and 
probably, although he could not see them, legs; twelve sketches of 
faces, two female. A man in a wig and gown was on his feet, talking 
suavely, with occasional emphasis and rare gestures. But Edward 
could not listen, he was inwardly and futilely struggling with the 

305 



invisible and unbreakable bonds that held him there, in that well- 
made wooden box, strong as a coffin, even stronger; and unable to 
go to Celia. A strange thought crossed his mind : he was free of his 
self for the first time in his life ; but firmly bound. 

His pleader stood up; he had reddish hair visible under the 
absurdly cocked-up queue of his little wig. There was an argument. 
The judge said something and Edward's man sat down. The 
business of taking evidence started. People, most of whom he knew, 
appeared in the box, took an oath, answered questions and gave 
way to others. Sometimes Edward attended; most of the time he 
did not. He had no real interest in all this. It was tedious. Would 
it be like this for Celia? As far as he knew it was diff"erent, an 
examining magistrate would establish all the facts beforehand. But 
she too would have to appear in a court, would be required to ex- 
plain an act which was inexplicable, which, taken out of context, 
was either vicious or mad. Her situation was a very dangerous one ; 
any attempt she might already have made to convey that huge 
bribe to the Sestis . . . was it that she had been arrested for, or that 
as well as the other? Or she might, if Italian courts allowed bail, 
still try to pay over the money and be caught red-handed by the 
police. Frantic under constraint, Edward began to fidget, suflFered 
a fit of coughing and was given a glass of water. He put his head in 
his hands and shut his eyes. Then there was a stirring, a rise in 
noise level; Edward opened his eyes. The judge was leaving the 
court. There was a coughing and chattering. The warder said, 'This 
way, sir, if you please' and he was taken to a cell. Someone . . . 
Evans, again? . . . had sent some lunch in for him. He told them, 
*I don't want this, I want newspapers,' and at that moment his 
lawyer appeared, saying at once, 'Look here, Tillotson, you really 
must pull yourself together. You're making a very bad impression 
on the jury, let alone the judge . . .' Edward said, 'Can you get 
newspapers in to me at once ? Times, Telegraph, Express, and some 
Italian ones. It's important. I . . .' 

'Damn!' the lawyer said, and, 'I'd hoped you hadn't seen it. 
I'm going to get some lunch now. I'll send the papers in to you. 
I don't know if I can get the Italian ones. For heaven's sake brace 
up, man! Headley will put you in the witness box after lunch. If 
you give a good account of yourself, you've got a chance. You could 
be with your wife in Naples the day after tomorrow, but you're 
not helping us . . .' 

The trouble was that Edward did not believe him. He had passed 

306 



sentence in advance. All this parade of justice was expensive time 
w^asting. It may have been that he did not want to believe in his 
chance. After all, he had always wanted to be punished. 

* * * 

He had to construct an image of what was happening to Celia 
out of newspaper accounts : the difficulty was that the three reliable 
English papers gave the case very little space ; the others were more 
concerned to make a story than to report the facts. 

To help him discover what was happening to Celia Edward had 
only one letter from her. Later, years later, he suddenly asked her 
why she had not written more letters. She said that he would have 
interpreted them as appeals for help even though she had made it 
clear she knew him to be in no position to help her. And then she 
said, 'Besides, it was my turn to be secretive and alone and shut you 
out because I was too ungenerous to receive help or even conso- 
lation much less ask for it.' She was passing his chair on the way to 
the kitchen in the ugly new flat over the television shop when she 
said that. It was two months after Edward had come out of prison. 
He caught her by the wrist and said, 'You don't feel like that now, 
though?' She stopped and kissed the top of his head and said, 'God, 
you're nearly bald ! That ought to be grounds for divorce. I married 
you for your fine head of hair.' 

* * * 

One letter then was all he had, and those newspaper accounts. 
And yet he was the only person in the world apart from herself 
who knew all that she was doing and thinking. Edward knew, what 
nobody else did, that she had the money to pay the enormous fine 
which would be imposed by the Italian court. He knew her dramati- 
cally simple dilemma: either she went to prison or David did, 
depending on how she spent that money, whether on bribing Enrico 
Sesti or paying the fine into court. That was how he saw, how he 
chose to see, it at the time. It seems that catastrophe in a man's life 
simplifies judgements, and for a while the highly 'theoretical' black 
and white values we are supposed to live by become valid. They can 
become the basis of action, just as imaginary numbers can yield the 
mathematical physicist practical results. For Edward, brooding 
in his cell below the court, or in the meaner cell at Wormwood 
Scrubs where he was kept pending his removal to the new penal 
settlement at Grovend Ponds, Celia became that crudely simple 
figure, the Heroine. The physiognomy which life had composed for 
her was stripped off in a matter of hours, to reveal the girl, golden 

307 



and splendid and made by Edward out of imagination, whom he 
had loved from the day he took her and her mother into his old car 
out of the rain. 

* * * 

That was what he had to tell her on the very day they moved him 
to Grovend Ponds. He had not been in the place an hour when he 
was sent for to the governor's office, and there she was talking to 
the governor, who said, *This isn't according to rules but I have a 
certain amount of discretion'; and referring to the way Edward 
was staring at Celia, *It's all right, man, she isn't a ghost! I'll be 
in the next room,' he added. They watched him go and Celia said, 
'Old Fleet Street connections come in handy sometimes,' but before 
she could say any more Edward began to talk, wanting to know by 
what uncovenanted mercy she was there who, according to his 
vision, should have been in a worse prison that his own by now. He 
was fluent at first in telling his immense admiration for the way she 
had behaved only faltering when he saw consternation in her eyes, 
and halting to silence when she began to flush as if his praise were 
shameful, a silence which she filled by rising and coming to him and 
saying, *Edward, it wasn't like that. How could it have been, I mean 
even if . . .' 

'You mean you were not in danger, didn't have that choice to 
make ?' 

Tor two days, yes, it's true, it was like that. David or me. Don't 
ask me what I would have done. I don't know. Anyway, he's home, 
and in a nursing home near Canterbury.' 

'You've worked miracles,' Edward said, but the flatness of his 
tone, in contrast with the rather exalted note he had struck at 
first, worried Celia. She said, *0h dear, I'm sorry I wasn't . . .' but 
before she completed that rueful apology she saw that for the time 
being she would do better not to make a little joke of his having 
raised her to heroic rank. 

Before he left prison Edward knew the facts, of course, but it 
must have been more than a year before they really talked about 
them, on an early-closing day when they left the shop and went 
out into the country, and he was lying on his stomach with a portable 
microscope between his eyes and a few square millimetres of turf, 
indulging a passionate new interest in detail, in the very small, in 
the texture of a grass-blade or a crumb of soil rather than of a 
universe or of a society. He did not know what minute movement or 
complex of forms in the microscope field set off^ the train of associated 

308 



ideas which led back to the subject he suddenly broached, of how 
his false vision of her conduct had occupied his mind to the exclusion 
of degrading self-hatred throughout his trial and through the first 
week of his punishment, excepting for one brief lapse into violence 
which occurred at the time of his first prison bath. 

'Sweet idiot!' CeUa said, prodding at his magnifying glass with 
her toe to distract his attention from the narrow leaf of Festuca 
ovina he was studying, 'What were you thinking of? It wasn't, it 
never is, like that nowadays. We play in farce, not tragedy. It's 
partly a matter of numbers. Joan of Arc, one individual, burning 
alive, was tragedy all right, because there was no really efficient 
mass-slaughter possible in her day. She was noticeable. Our style 
is to count in units of ten thousand people, not ones. Ten thousand 
stripped stark, and the gold dug out of their back teeth, and them- 
selves packed into cyanide gas chambers. That, if you come to think 
of it, is farce.' 

Edward protested. 'Farce,' she insisted, 'farce. We are too numer- 
ous and therefore individually too trivial to be anything but ridicu- 
lous. One can't rise even to comedy now. I know I didn't, anyway. 
It was all rough knock-about, crazy gang . . .' 

They rose and walked on beside a hedge of hazel whose catkins 
were each the nucleus of a small golden cloud of minutely agitated 
pollen grains. The ditch under the hedge was already gold-starred 
with celandine. Now Edward had to excuse what had been his 
sentimentality. He said, 'Oh, well, myths are useful in adversity, 
if you'll pass so dignified a word for what I'd been undergoing. 
You were my myth. One chooses either that simplicity, or the death 
of the heart.' 

'Of course.' 

And after all for two days she had in fact faced the choice Edward 
had imagined. But only because the fool of a lawyer found for her 
by the British consulate had not realized that she could know 
nothing whatever of the, to an Englishwoman, inconceivable 
gentleness of Italian law, its un-British respect for the human 
being instead of for property. While Celia ignorantly faced the 
prospect of being fined at least the value of the thing she had broken, 
and of going to prison if, having paid Sesti his bribe, she could not 
find the money for the fine, the truth of her predicament was very 
different. It turned out that the maximum fine which could be in- 
flicted on her was 8,000 lire, at the time about ^^. True, a prison 
sentence of three months without the option might be passed on her, 

309 



but as a first offender she would in no circumstances be required 
to serve it. 

'When I first heard that,' she told him, 'for a few minutes I felt 
more like crying than laughing, which rather looks as if I had 
braced myself for the heroic role. Laughter wasn't long delayed, 
though. The fact was I never stood in the slightest danger, for it 
seemed that no Italian judge would send a foreigner to prison for 
anything less than a crime against the person; he'd simply tell the 
nearest convenient Prefettura to bundle her over the frontier as 
fast as possible. I should not have been facing the martyrdom you 
imagined for me even if I'd wrecked the entire contents of the Pitti 
palace and the Uffizzi gallery.' 

And, speaking gently, as if she knew that what she had to say must 
give him pain, 'And there was something else you overlooked. 
Darling, how was I to pay a fine of several thousand pounds without 
giving the whole game away, without having the Italian court or 
the British Consul or some other official nosy-parker ask how I got 
the money, when what this free and glorious commonwealth 
allowed us to take abroad, of our own money, was a hundred pounds, 
at the time? You see what I meant about farce? There aren't any 
grand gestures for us, my dear. They're against the bye-laws.' 

For three or four minutes Edward watched, in silence, a small 
party of ants dismembering the corpse of a beetle. Here were 
creatures whose bodies were as complex as his own, who possessed 
nerves and brains, traditions incalculably more ancient than man's, 
a social system so far beyond comparison more perfect than man's 
that its influence extended to the physical attributes of its citizens. 
These creatures, though, had no selves: they had sacrificed them, 
but unwittingly, to the community some millions of years ago. 
Edward did not envy them. For, obviously, that only real freedom 
which consisted in getting rid of one's self, was worthless unless 
it was voluntary, unless it was not the product of some hymenop- 
teroid communism, but of love. He said, 'There's a thing I've never 
told you about when I was in prison.* 

'Tell me now, Edward.' 

And so he told her how his self, his noisy, tedious, quarrelsome 
and ever-demanding companion, had sprung to life again during 
the horrible thirty minutes which followed his deliverance to the 
authorities at Wormwood Scrubs . 

'Wormwood, Celia! What savage ironist chose to put a prison 
there? They make you have a bath when you go in. You're made 

310 



to go along to the baths with a prison officer who watches you take 
your clothes off and get into the water which smells strongly of 
disinfectant: and to soap yourself, and rinse yourself and dry 
yourself * 

It was this which, no doubt absurdly, had seemed to him the 
most humiliating of his ordeals : was he not a man in a certain posi- 
tion, a position which implied daily, even twice daily, bathing? 
This enforced ablution was an indignity not to be borne ; submission 
to it would concede them, his jailers, not only might but right, 

*I kept repeating that it was absurd, that I didn't need a bath, 
that I bathed every morning and often at night too, that maybe 
their usual clients were lousy but that really ! I must have sounded 
as if, at any moment, I would ask to see the manager.' 

The officer had kept saying that it was the rules, that rules must 
be obeyed, that surely Tillotson did not want to begin by sacrificing 
his good-conduct remission. 'But the very idea that I had to re-earn 
the use of my petty legacy of days by humiliating obedience so 
outraged me that I went on resisting and in the end shouted that 
by God I would not do it, they could throw me in if they dared!' 
His rage had even carried him easily over the obstacle implicit in 
the symbolic contrast between his stark nakedness and the prison 
officer's uniform. But it was at this crisis that a chaplain wearing a 
cassock passed through the baths on some errand and halted, his 
enigmatic eyes on the prisoner's nakedness. This priest said, 'What 
is it, Jackson?' The prison officer explained and the priest asked 
for the prisoner's name and was told it. 'And what he said then 
sent me into that bath of tepid water which stank of disinfectant, 
with nothing to say for myself.' 

'What did he say, Edward?' 

Tt was only — "Who do you think you are, Tillotson?" ' 

THE END 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Edward Hyams has published twenty books in England, including 
fourteen works of fiction. Last year, ig6o, Simon and Schuster pub- 
lished one of the novels— The Unpossessed— io wide critical acclaim 
(see quotations from reviews on the back of the jacket). Among his 
countryjnen he has a first-class reputation in several fields: as a nov- 
elist, as an authority on gardening, as a brilliant contributor to the 
New Statesman and Punch, as a translator, and as one of England's 
two viticulturists. 

Born in London, he lias studied and traveled abroad, sen'ed in 
the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy during World War II, and 
now lives luith his wife in what he describes as "a large, vaguely 
Gothic vicarage" in Devon. 



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